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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 12:14 GMT
Harbin residents remain unruffled
The BBC News website has been speaking to residents of the Chinese city of Harbin, where mains water has been shut off after a chemical accident polluted the Songhua river.

Craig Hutchinson
Craig Hutchinson is not comforted by the assurances of the authorities
Craig Hutchinson, an English teacher in Harbin, says that although the river is dirty, people remain sanguine.

This toxic leak is not going to stop life here now. People are just waiting for the water to return.

The Chinese news stations are reporting that the water will be back on tomorrow night. The mayor of Harbin said he would drink the first glass to prove it was safe.

This doesn't make me feel particularly bad or particularly good. The river doesn't look very clean at the moment. This could be a result of ice or pollution - who knows?.

People don't get angry. They seem to accept it. It's just another one of those things. They are just taking it in their stride. And nobody is complaining about information, misinformation or lack of information.

I don't know how many people know about the benzene in the water. I'm not sure they really want to know or even care about how poisonous the water is at this moment.

I think many people I know will see that as pointless information at this stage.

Most are sanguine, they fully believe the water will return tomorrow. If this happened in England, it would be completely different.

I have not personally seen people fishing in the waters but it would not surprise me. In Harbin, there is a large divide between rich and poor.

Peter Smith
Peter Smith says the mood in the city is calm
Peter Smith, who has lived in Harbin for three years, says people do not expect the government to tell the truth.

At the beginning the government misinformed everyone. They said they were going to clean the pipes in Harbin.

People were a bit suspicious but when the truth about the chemical factory explosion emerged, people got worried and everyone started buying water.

Today, I went to the supermarket and the mood is different. Most have enough drinking water. Restaurants are still open, people are still on the streets, shopping, going about their normal lives.

People are quite resilient. They know they are not being told the truth, but they expect that.

Nobody really believes it is going to last only three to four days. Most are banking on a seven or ten day stoppage.

I asked some of my students what they thought of the situation and they said that if they were in government they would do the same thing. They wouldn't want people to panic. They don't mind the lies.

It's a different way of thinking about the media. People take everything with a pinch of salt and that isn't a problem. The attitude is one of: "There is no water, so just get on with it".

I'm personally concerned about the river freezing over. Can we really be sure that the toxic water will just drift through? A certain amount could have frozen here.

But if this lasts for longer than a few days, if all the restaurants start to close and universities shut down, that's when people will begin to change.

When this all started, I had imagined riots, but it's nothing like that. And if anything so dramatic is ever going to happen, it won't happen for some time.

David Liu is a clerk in a hotel located near the Songhua river in Harbin and he says he is confident the pollution will clear soon.

There is still no water in our hotel. We can only wash our faces and drink, there are no bathing facilities.

I don't know much about the water conditions but I am not worried. The Harbin government has said the water will return after three days and I am confident that is the case.

The water in the Songhua river is dirty but I don't feel it is dangerous. We just won't eat the fish from the river but after a few days, I am confident that everything will be fine.

I've read the news and I know that the water in Jilin province is polluted but I'm feel Harbin will survive. I am optimistic.

People in Harbin aren't worried about this matter. Workers go to factories and the students go to school and for people like myself, life just carries on as normal.

Chinese toxic leak was 100 tons
25 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Harbin crisis brings people closer
24 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese papers condemn Harbin 'lies'
24 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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