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5 killed by toxic fumes while cleaning septic tank in Delhi

NEW DELHI — Five men have died from exposure to toxic fumes while cleaning a septic tank at a housing complex in New Delhi.

Police say they are pursuing criminal charges stemming from the incident Sunday.

Delhi deputy police commissioner Monika Bhardwaj said Monday that four men were declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital on Sunday. She said a fifth man died at the hospital Monday.

Bezwada Wilson of the Sanitation Workers Movement group says more than 1,800 people across India have died while cleaning septic tanks since 2014, when India’s Supreme Court issued a ruling to bolster a 2013 act that prohibits employing people to clean sewage without safety equipment.

The law calls such work “dehumanizing” and based on a “highly iniquitous caste system.”