Published: Wednesday 15 September 1999

The Bangladesh government along with the United Nations Environment Programme (unep) has decided to conduct a fresh survey to determine the extent of damage caused by the devastating accident at the Magurchhara gas well in 1997.

uncoal, the us company which took over Occidental's operation in Bangladesh, has agreed to pay compensations for the damages at Magurchhara after getting the report of an independent survey. Sources at the ministry of environment and forests said that the initiative to conduct the fresh survey was undertaken after a meeting between officials of the company and the ministry in July.

"The survey by the experts of unep is expected to begin in September and is likely to be completed by this year," said an official of the ministry. Sources said uncoal agreed to conduct a survey for a reasonable settlement of the compensation issue. "uncoal never disagreed to provide compensation for environmental damages caused at the site. Rather Terry Budden, while announcing the take-over of Occidental's assets last month, said the company would also bear the liabilities of the previous owner," a Bangladesh environment ministry official said.

The first survey of child deaths in Iraq, after the 1991 Gulf War, shows a dramatic increase in child mortality in government-controlled areas and a significant decrease in the autonomous north, the United Nation's Children's Fund (unicef) reported recently.

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