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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Water Cut to 10,000 Residents in Khabarovsk

KHABAROVSK -- Authorities in Khabarovsk cut off water supplies to 10,000 people on Wednesday as a toxic slick from China floated downriver toward the city.

By evening, pipes began to pump water once again to the homes of people in three southern districts of the city affected by the shutdown, with full supplies expected to resume by morning.

But a top regional environmental official warned the 580,000 residents of Khabarovsk not to drink tap water because of the contamination from a chemical plant explosion in China last month.

"We don't know how the situation will develop. We advise people not to use cold water," said Vladimir Ott, a regional health official with the Natural Resources Ministry.

Khabarovsk regional officials said tests conducted in the Amur River, which flows past the city and provides it with all its water supplies, so far had not detected chemicals above permissible levels. But residents of the three districts woke up to find notices posted outside their apartment blocks with a list of hazardous chemicals that could be in the water supply and their effects. The notice warned them not to siphon hot water from their centrally heated radiators.

An official with the regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry, Sergei Gorchkov, said that water supplies to the area had begun to resume at 8 p.m local time. The spill was about 30 kilometers up the Amur River from city limits, and it was expected to arrive Thursday. The pollutant slick, measuring 180 kilometers, was expected to take four days to pass through the city.

Gorchkov said the decision to restore water was made after Chinese workers laboring around-the-clock finally managed to complete a dam across a waterway in a bid to prevent the toxins from reaching three water treatment facilities that service the south of the city.

In Moscow, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu answered questions in the State Duma about the spill.