Putin announces state of emergency after massive fuel leak contaminates Arctic river

Russia’s president furious at the delay of being told

Vladimir Putin has announced a state of emergency in the region around the Arctic city of Norilsk after a massive fuel leak left two rivers with a bloody red tinge.

At least 21,000 tonnes of diesel is understood to have leaked from a local power plant on Friday. Initial reports suggested a car had crashed into one of the plant’s storage towers, but it transpired the tower first decompressed and then ruptured, resulting in a fire and further spillage. Remarkably, news of the accident took several days to reach the authorities.

Over two increasingly desperate days, officials in the power plant tried to deal with the problem themselves. By the time things were eventually referred higher up the chain, and Mr Putin was informed, over 100,000sq metres of land had been affected.

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Russia’s longtime leader made his displeasure known on Wednesday afternoon in a video audience with Aleksandr Uss, the local governor. In a short dispatch, Mr Uss insisted he too had only found out about the disaster from social media, but promised to resolve the situation within two weeks. ”Report over,” the official concluded.

“What do you mean, report over?” said Mr Putin, cutting off his governor as he attempted to respond. “What are you going to do about it? You’re the governor aren’t you?”

Read more: The Independent