Gnat emergency declared in East Flemish town

The municipality of Wichelen in East Flanders has declared a disaster after the local authorities received countless reports of local residents being bitten by gnats.

It's above all the residential areas around the Kalken Marshes and the Donk Lake that have been badly hit.  Due to the drought the silt marshes have all but dried up.  It's an ideal environment for gnats to lay their eggs.  The authorities are squirting water on the marshes in an attempt to wash away the eggs of these nasty creatures.  The declaration of an emergency allows the civilian protection service to pump extra water into the area for the operation that started today.

Wichelen mayor Kenneth Taylor: "The situation is intolerable for the neighbours and this is why we've taken the decision in consultation with the Flemish waterways authority. The disaster plan will remain in force until the problem's been sorted."