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British envoy vows to cooperate with toxic humidifier sterilizer probe

All News 18:25 June 10, 2016

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- Britain's Ambassador to South Korea Charles Hay vowed to lend support to the ongoing probe involving a toxic humidifier sterilizer sold by a British firm that caused numerous deaths and illnesses here, a civic group said Friday.

According to the Asian Citizen's Center for Environment and Health, the diplomat said London is willing to cooperate with South Korea's investigation into Oxy Reckitt Benckiser. His comments were made during a meeting with the victims at the embassy in central Seoul earlier in the day.

The ambassador said he met with Reckitt Benckiser CEO Rakesh Kapoor in Britain three weeks ago and quoted the businessman as saying that he was "deeply sorry," the civic group said.

The British Embassy in Seoul confirmed the meeting and said the ambassador is willing to cooperate if the South Korean government requests assistance.

The humidifier disinfectant case, one of the worst scandals involving a consumer product that contains chemicals, came to light after four pregnant women died of lung problems from unknown causes in 2011. A government-led investigation confirmed a connection between the people who died of lung problems and the chemicals used to clean household humidifiers.

Prosecutors have summoned current and former executives of the local unit of the British consumer goods company, suspecting that it caused more than 70 deaths here with its product.

In early May, Oxy Korea CEO Ata Safdar made an official apology and vowed to fully cooperate with the Korean government in the ongoing investigation. Now the focus is on whether the company's British headquarters was aware of the health risks of its disinfectants.

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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