Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry said the pollutants could affect 70 Russian cities and villages with a total of over 1 million residents along the Amur river, including Khabarovsk, a city of 580,000. Officials said the benzene spill was expected to reach Khabarovsk on Dec. 10-12 _ or sooner.
China's usually docile state-run newspapers have accused officials of lying about and trying to conceal the spill following the chemical plant blast, which killed five people and forced 10,000 more to flee their homes, the AP reports.
But on Monday, coverage on state-run television in Harbin was upbeat _ with a variety show celebrating the return of water. Young women in jade-green costumes danced with empty 40-liter (10-gallon) water bottles on their shoulders. A comedian played with a giant squirt gun.