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Panic spread through one of China's largest cities Tuesday as residents hoarded water and food ahead of a four-day water stoppage due to fears that a chemical plant explosion had contaminated drinking supplies.
"In order to safeguard water safety in the urban districts, the municipal government has decided to provisionally stop supplying water to the public water network," the government of Harbin city, the capital of the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, said in a statement.
The order follows a November 13 explosion at a petrochemical plant in Jilin city, 380 kilometers (230 miles) up the Songhua river from Harbin.
The explosion killed at least five people and resulted in the temporary evacuation of tens of thousands of others who were forced to flee a cloud of toxic smoke.
Locals aware of the pending water stoppage began hoarding water and food as early as Sunday, amid government pronouncements telling people to stay calm and "stop listening to rumors," state press reports said.
A slick of flammable nitrobenzene,
A toxic river spill from a chemical explosion in China has reached Russian waters, Moscow has said.
Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said checks carried out in the Amur river so far showed toxicity levels to be normal.
He said arrangements were in place to purify water, and new wells had been drilled to ensure safe supplies.
The 100-tonne spill is expected to reach the main city in the area, Khabarovsk, in four to five days.
China is damming a waterway in its northeast in an effort to reduce the impact of a river-borne toxic spill flowing toward a city in Russia's Far East, the government said Saturday.
Work began Friday to dam the waterway along the Heilong River, which is carrying the spill toward Khabarovsk, a city of 480,000 people, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The waterway links the Heilong to the Wusuli River, which also supplies water to Khabarovsk, and authorities hope to shield it from pollution.
The dam is the latest Chinese effort to repair strains with Russia over the slick caused by a Nov. 13 chemical plant explosion that already has disrupted water supplies to millions of people in China.