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Freezing Harbin without water

Residents of Harbin, a 3.5 millon city in China’s northeast that is relatively famous for its yearly ice sculpture festival, will not be able to bath during the next 4 days. The reason is that the water has been cut off since last night and won’t be turned on until Saturday night, because of a leak in a petro-chemical plant that caused pollution in the Songhua river. The plant, located 230 km upstream in Jilin, had an explosion 10 days ago that killed 5 people. Strange enough no warnings have been issued over the past week for the cities along the river between Harbin and Jilin. Rumours are spreading in Harbin that people have been killed already by drinking the water.

Luckily for the residents the water was not suddenly cut off, so people could prepare for it by storing water. Also the city has several water wells that are not affected. Bottled water prices have tripled already, and some people are stocking up on large amounts of water. The heating system that also uses river water won’t be cut off. Considering the already freezing temperatures so far up north (daytime temperatures are around zero degrees Celcius at the moment) that is probably a good idea. But many people are staying in tents at the moment instead of indoors. Because of rumours that a major earthquake is imminent people are afraid to stay inside their homes. So far government reports that nothing will happen have not convinced people to return home.

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