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Russian Media Confused by Report of Chlorine Leak Emergency

One of several photos published with the chlorine leak report on the emergency department's website. mchs.gov.ru

Russia's media got itself into a twist on Friday when a report providing details of a fatal accident in Tyumen was posted on the regional emergency department's website.

The report said that a chlorine leak at a water treatment plant in the Siberian city had killed 55 people and poisoned 160 others. It also warned that a poisonous gas cloud would drift toward the city and provided residents with safety advice.

In fact, no such incident had taken place — the notification was simply part of a nationwide emergency response exercise ordered by the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Local media had earlier been warned about plans to conduct the training exercise and took no notice, but some national mass media outlets seized on the report, which contained not one word about the exercise and looked perfectly legitimate.

The department later updated the message to include the pertinent information, but the original can still be viewed thanks to screenshots retained by the media.

"Everything's fine, there was no accident. It was all just an exercise," the department's spokesman, Alexander Glazov, told Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

The ministry itself refused to take any blame for the confusion. Its spokeswoman Irina Rossius told Ekho Moskvy radio station that the information was published correctly and that there was a link to information about the exercise on the main page.

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