More victims feared as Belfast boy fights for life after toxic waste incident at bonfire site
The parents of a nine-year-old boy were maintaining a vigil at his hospital bedside last night after he came in contact with hazardous material believed to have been dumped at a Belfast bonfire site.
Cameron Dickson was last night fighting for his life as fears grew that other children may have come into contact with the toxic substance. Police and health officials have issued a warning to the public after barrels containing the unknown substance were left at the site at Glenwood Street, close to the Shankill Road.
A spokeswoman for the Belfast Health Trust said the schoolboy was in a critical condition.
Inspector Laura Kelly urged parents who live in the area to seek medical help if their children display any symptoms.
"We became aware that a young boy fell ill and was taken to hospital for treatment," she said.
"Subsequently there were some concerns that his symptoms may have been a result of coming into contact with something at a bonfire site.
"We immediately attended, given the concerns that other people may have come into contact with whatever was there.
"The site is being cleared and there is an ongoing police investigation into that.
"There is a possibility that the child's symptoms are linked to substances that have been found at the bonfire site.
"We are asking parents to keep an eye on their children.
"If they have any symptoms including redness of eyes, sore throats, coughing and any problems breathing to seek medical advice immediately. Those symptoms can take up to 36 hours to develop so there is a possibility that other children have been in and around that area.
"We are looking into how they got there and what exactly the substances are."
DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey has condemned those who dumped hazardous waste at the bonfire site.
"As we approach the summer young people are beginning to gather material at bonfire sites. There is absolutely no excuse, however, for anyone to use a bonfire site as a dumping ground for hazardous materials or to dispose of tyres."
Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston said he was deeply shocked at the incident.
"The police, Fire Service and council have secured the site and the material is being taken away. Obviously our thoughts are with the boy and his family, but this is very concerning," he said.