Why Did This Russian River Suddenly Turn Blood Red?

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A river near an industrial town in Russia has turned suddenly blood-red. But it’s not an omen of something mystical wrong in the cosmos. Rather, the source of the problem is probably a leaky factory upstream.

Several photos of the river’s blood-red hue were captured on Instagram by residents aound Norilsk, Russia yesterday. Although the precise cause of the change isn’t yet confirmed, The Siberian Times reports that it’s happened a number of times before, and that pollution from a nickel factory on the river is believed to be the cause.

Norilsk Nickel, the company that owns the factory, so far denies that a leak in its plant is responsible for leaching color into the river. But Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology said in a statement that it does believe a leaking slurry pipeline in the factory is the source and has ordered an investigation.