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Thousands were evacuated on Wednesday when a cloud of chlorine escaped from an water treatment plant in the Chinese city of Harbin.

Some 2,000 teachers and students were evacuated from a high school adjacent to the plant, as were 3,000 people living in the neighbouring area.

Locals complained of stinging eyes and noses following the leak though it is unclear from Chinese press reports whether anybody required hospital treatment.

Harbin is no stranger to major pollution incidents – in 2005 a major benzene leak from a riverside plant left the city without water for days and contaminated the Songhua River that runs through the north eastern city for hundreds of miles downstream (see related story).

Sam Bond

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