A chemical spill in the US state of West Virginia has sparked a state of emergency and a tap water ban for up to 300,000 people.
Officials say a product used in the coal industry leaked into the Elk River near West Virginia’s capital Charleston. They have urged extreme caution.
“Do not use any of the water, with the exception of using it to flush the commodes or for fire protection,” Governor Earl Ray Tomblin told a news conference.
“Do not drink it, do not cook with it, do not wash clothes in it, do not take a bath in it.”
West Virginia’s Director of Homeland Security, Jimmy Gianato, was more reassuring.
“This product is not an extremely hazardous product in its raw form and it has been diluted hundreds of times,” he said.
Schools and restaurants have closed and there has been a rush on bottled water. Authorities don’t know when the ban will be lifted.