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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Strange-Colored Snow Said to Pose No Health Threats

Strange-colored snow that fell in three different Siberian regions is not toxic and may have been caused by dust and soils blown into the atmosphere from neighboring Kazakhstan, an emergency official said Friday.

The snow, which fell Wednesday afternoon, was yellow, green and orange and covered more than 100 square kilometers in at least three provinces, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.

Initial tests in three main cities in the region -- Omsk, Tomsk and Novosibirsk -- showed the multicolored snow was not harmful. Beltsov also refuted news reports saying the snow was oily or foul smelling.

"Preliminary results have found no dangerous chemical or radioactive materials," Beltsov said.

Omsk environmental prosecutor Anton German said last week that the snow was "oily to the touch," Itar-Tass reported.

German added that the snow "has a pronounced rotten smell."

Vladimir Gurzhey, a civil defense official based in Omsk, also said last week, in televised comments, that the snow had four times the normal levels of iron in it.

Beltsov said it appeared the coloration came from clay and sandy soils common in northern regions of Kazakhstan.

Officials in the Omsk region had earlier warned local residents not to use the snow for drinking water or other purposes, and to keep themselves and domestic animals from walking in or touching it.

More than 27,000 people live in the area.

No health problems had been reported, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

(MT, AP)