Authorities in the far eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk cut off water supplies to 10,000 people Wednesday as a toxic slick from China floated downriver toward the city, forcing people to go outside in the bitter cold with buckets to get water.
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, the regional chief of Russia's Federal Natural Resources Service.
Regional officials said that 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 try to siphon hot water from their centrally heated radiators.
The spill, measuring 180 kilometers (110 miles), has been steadily progressing downriver from China since mid-November and entered Russian territory last week on the Amur River.
According to the latest calculations it was expected to reach the city limits early on Thursday, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.
The pollutant slick could take four days or more to pass through Khabarovsk.
Gorchkov said the decision to restore water was taken 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, the AP reports.
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