Bad water may have claimed new victim

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A Haukeland University Hospital patient from Askøy who’d been admitted with stomach and intestinal infections has died. Askøy, just north of Bergen, has been plagued by contaminated water that’s already believed to have killed a one-year-old boy.

Haukeland, the main hospital for the Bergen area, reported in a press release Thursday that tests conducted on the deceased Askøy resident revealed the same intestinal bacteria (campylobacter) that’s been found in Askøy’s drinking water. No exact cause of death had been determined, however, pending results of an autopsy.

Police investigation underway
The death of the 72-year-old woman from Askøy was reported to both county health officials and the police, which already have opened an investigation into what’s developed into a water contamination scandal. TV2 reported Wednesday that police suspect violations of drinking water regulations.

“I can’t comment on the details around this, but the investigation is related to the distribution of drinking water and water quality,” Frode Karlsen, a police inspector for the Vest Police District, told news bureau NTB.

Around 2,000 Askøy residents have fallen ill in recent weeks, and officials confirmed the presence of the campylobacter bacteria in the local drinking water on Tuesday. Tests taken from the first six patients have been determined as “genetically identical,” according to Haukeland University Hospital, showing that their infections were coming from the same source, believed to be the Kleppe Waterworks in Askøy.

Epidemic unabated
With more people falling ill even after a week of orders to boil all water used for consumption, Askøy officials had to concede that the epidemic of stomach ailments was continuing with no abatement. Seven more people were admitted to hospital earlier this week including children and adults. A total of 64 people from Askøy had been admitted to Haukeland as of Thursday.

Askøy officials reacted to the news of another death with sorrow. “We have received the very tough message that a resident has died,” Askøy Mayor Terje Mathiassen of the Labour Party told local newspaper Askøyværingen. “My thoughts go to the family and survivors.”

It’s emerged, meanwhile, that the upper storage pool for the waterworks hadn’t been inspected for for several years. On Thursday came reports that fresh excrement from dogs and deer had been found in the terrain above the pool at Øvre Kleppe. One theory is that animal excrement may have fallen between cracks in the mountain and down to the water, which lies five meters below the surface.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund