As of 10.00 am of 20 July, the number of people sickened by smoke from a chemical fire triggered by a train derailment reached 164, out of them 34 children.

According to the Health Ministry’s press-office, all 164 were hospitalized.

The accident occurred when a freight train derailed outside Lviv, near the Polish border, and 15 of its 58 cars overturned. Six tanker cars containing phosphorus ruptured and caught fire, sending smoke and noxious fumes over 90 square kilometers (35 square miles) of western Ukraine. Hundreds of villagers in the area were evacuated, while other families fled on their own.

According to AP, the first rescuers at the scene were unaware of the nature of the fire, so did not wear protective suits and were poisoned, independent Channel 5 television cited Emergency Situations Minister Nestor Shufrych as saying.

The emergencies ministry said authorities planned to send the tanker cars still loaded with phosphorus back to Kazakhstan. Workers sprayed anti-fire foam on the damaged tankers to prevent new fires.

About 50 million tones of cargo - 70 percent of which includes dangerous substances such as chlorine, nitrogen, ammonia and petroleum products - is transported by rail through Ukraine`s territory annually.