Water Pollution Sickens Thousands in North China

By: AP
By: AP

BEIJING – Contaminated drinking water has sickened more than 2,600 people in northern China, including 59 who were hospitalized with fevers, diarrhea, stomach aches and vomiting, state media reported Wednesday.

Heavy rains caused contaminants to seep into a water supply in Chifeng city in Inner Mongolia, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, without saying what the contaminants were.

Residents began reporting diarrhea and vomiting over the weekend and were treated at the local hospital, Xinhua reported. The contaminated well provided water for 58,000 of the city's 4.5 million residents, it said.

Calls to the Chifeng city government office rang unanswered Wednesday.

Although the government has taken measures to control water pollution, problems such as acid rain — caused by industrial pollution in the atmosphere — remain prevalent in many Chinese cities. Raw tap water is unsafe to drink, and most Chinese have to boil it before drinking.

Despite the recent heavy rains in Chifeng, parts of China's wheat-growing northern regions are suffering their worst drought in five decades.

Xinhua also reported Wednesday that Beijing municipality will spend $22 million to plant 13,000 acres (5,260 hectares) of trees to protect two of its largest drinking water reservoirs.

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