500,000 pigs in Chile to be slaughtered

Nearly half a million hogs and sows at the largest pig farm in Chile are to be slaughtered after the government closed the meat processing plant there due to health concerns.

"They are going to be slaughtered. They are not going to another farm, nor to another plant," Jose Guzman, chief executive of Agrosuper, which owns the premises, told local media.

Residents of Freirina, a town in the parched Atacama region, cut off roads leading to the vast pig farm a week ago to protest against the foul smells emanating from the slaughterhouse.

Hundreds of workers fled after the protests turned violent, resulting in arrests and two police cars being torched.

Pigs started dying after going without food and water for five days.

The Chilean government waded into the row on Tuesday, declaring a health emergency, ordering the indefinite closure of the plant and giving Agrosuper six months to evacuate the animals.

Guzman said the pigs must be slaughtered because it would require 50,000 trucks to move them and, besides, no one was willing to take them.

Agrosuper obtained certification to build the Freirina abattoir in 2006 and had put in place a system of micro-organisms to eliminate the waste.

The company has blamed the stench on airing problems and the failure of the micro-organisms to generate.

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