Human rights group Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy – based in Hong Kong – said that the leak affected at least 20,000 people in the region, leaving residents without a supply of clean drinking water. No human injuries have so far been reported.

It was reported that a local factory dumped the waste water containing arsenic on August 10th. Locals in the town of Chongan in the Guizhou province were also reportedly pre-warned to not eat, transport or sell the fish by government officials, said State media.

Reports also indicated that government officials faulted the poisoning and death of the fish on factories dumping excessive levels of fluorine phosphate and arsenium into the river, which left a foul-smelling odour and the river murky with fish floating as far away as five kilometers from the site of the incident.

This incident follows a string of polluted rivers across China leaving thousands of residents without water.

China’s government has been struggling to control pollution from factories and mines, battling a surge in economic growth.

Last month, a river polluted in the Shuyang County in Jiangsu Province cut off about 200,000 people from their tap water. At the time, the State’s Premier said that fresh water was a priority.

State reports also said that the string of water crises would force China to adopt a new national compulsory drinking water safety standard from this month to secure safe water supplies for citizens.

Dana Gornitzki

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