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China links with Russia to combat toxic spill
Updated: 2005-12-08 10:52

China is cooperating with Russia to tackle a toxic benzene slick moving through northeastern China towards the Siberian city of Khabarovsk, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said.

"We have informed the Russian side and supplied technical aid and necessary equipment. We are maintaining contact and close cooperation with the Russian side," Wen told reporters during a visit to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.

"We have already taken effective measures, such as the reinforcement of monitoring and the river's warning system. We are also going to take effective steps to eliminate the pollution and assure drinking water for the population."

About 100 tonnes of benzene were spilled into the river after an explosion at a PetroChina chemical plant on November 13.

Russian officials believe the slick will reach the Amur, which forms the border between China and Russia above Khabarovsk, on December 15 and then approach the city towards the end of December.

Due to increasingly icy conditions, the speed of the slick flowing down the Songhua has slowed to about 20 kilometres (12 miles) a day.

Millions of people in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin were without running water for several days after authorities shut down the public water supply.

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