WEST PLAINS, Mo., May 20 (AP)—Twenty‐five National Guard trucks delivered free tanks of fresh water today to isolated residents of this Missouri Ozarks town after its water supply was contaminated by a major sewage leak that made at least 700 people ill. Residents who had to use well water were warned to boil it first, but Mayor A. D. Pierce of nearby Thayer, Mo., said some of the people were “just too poor and too ignorant to know enough to boil water even if they hear the warning.”
Health officials said that, in addition to the 700 known to have been affected, hundreds more may have come down with intestinal illnesses from drinking contaminated water but had not sought medical help. At least 10 persons were hospitalized. The problem began when three large sinkholes developed in a West Plains sewage lagoon, allowing 25 million gallons of waste to leak into underground caverns and groundwater in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.