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4,020 people fall sick in N China tap water pollution
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Last Saturday's tap water pollution in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has sickened 4,020 people, of whom 88 are still in hospital, according to the health department Friday.

In the 24 hours from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 5 p.m. Thursday, 301 new cases were reported, a health department spokesman in Chifeng City said Friday.

Water supply to Chifeng's new city center, a 17-square km area with 58,000 people, was contaminated by an overflow of rainwater last Thursday and test results showed an excessively high count of bacteria, including coliforms and salmonella.

Tap water has not been cut off, but the city government has warned residents not to drink from the tap and has since Tuesday sent water wagons to carry clean water to all communities in the area at least three times a day, the health department spokesman said.

But the number of patients continued to climb daily, he said. "Most of them complained of fever, diarrhea, stomach aches and vomiting."

While some patients fell ill after drinking directly from the tap, many others were sickened after eating fruits or uncooked vegetables that had been rinsed with the contaminated tap water, he said.

Workers are cleaning the water supply well in the new city center, while pipelines are also being laid to divert water from Chifeng's old city center about 10 km away, an official with the city government said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 31, 2009)

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