Nato crippled the Serb oil industry yesterday. Tom Walker reports from Belgrade
AN ecological disaster was unfolding yesterday after Nato bombed a combined petrochemicals, fertiliser and refinery complex on the banks of the Danube in the northern outskirts of Belgrade.
A series of detonations that shook the whole city early yesterday sent a toxic cloud of smoke and gas hundreds of feet into the night sky. In the dawn the choking cloud could be seen spreading over the entire northern skyline.
Among the cocktail of chemicals billowing over hundreds of thousands of homes were the toxic gas phosgene, chlorine and hydrochloric acid. Workers at the industrial complex in Pancevo panicked and decided to release tons of ethylene dichloride, a carcinogen, into the Danube, rather than risk seeing it blown up.
At least three missile strikes left large areas of the plant crippled and oil and petrol from the damaged refinery area flowed into the river, forming slicks up to 12 miles long. Temperatures in the collapsing plant were said to have risen to more than 1,000C. Asked about the hazard from chemical smoke, Nato said there was "a lot more smoke coming from burning villages in Kosovo"....