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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 11:02 GMT
Toxic leak reaches Russian city
Drinking water
Residents of Khabarovsk are still urged to drink bottled water
A slick of chemicals from a toxic river spill in China has reached the Russian city of Khabarovsk after weeks of anxious waiting for residents.

Officials say the levels of the deadly benzene toxins were at acceptable levels and water supplies, which are being filtered, will not be cut.

The benzene spill into the Amur river was caused by an explosion at a Chinese chemical factory last month.

Khabarovsk residents have been stocking up with drinking water for weeks.

Charcoal filters and dams of sandbags have been used to prevent toxins entering Khabarovsk's water supplies. The authorities say samples from the river are being constantly assessed.

The contamination is estimated to cover 190km (119 miles) of river, and will take several days to pass through the city.

Water supplies to 3.8 million people in China's Harbin city were cut off for five days after the leak.

Fish warning

The explosion occurred higher up the Songhua river, in Jilin. The Songhua flows into the Amur river on the Russian border.

Local officials say the pollution is well below what would be considered dangerous to drink but it may not be until spring, when all the ice melts, when the full extent of any environmental damage is clear.

The governor of the Khabarovsk region, Viktor Ishayev, has warned that just because the water was safe did not mean it was good to drink and he urged residents to use only bottled water.

"I cannot be certain that the water is of good quality," Mr Ishayev said, according to AFP.

He also repeated warnings to locals not to eat fish from the Amur River.

Mr Ishayev said he would be seeking compensation from China to pay for the emergency measures, like treating the benzene with activated charcoal.

Chinese city water supply 'safe'
29 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Russians prepare for toxic leak
27 Nov 05 |  Europe
China apologises for river spill
26 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Beijing orders Harbin leak probe
26 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Harbin toxic leak
24 Nov 05 |  In Pictures
China's murky waters
23 Nov 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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