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Residents of Chongqing, China got quite a surprise when they looked out at the Yangtze River yesterday: The river, which usually has a golden-brown hue, had been dyed a deep red-orange, and nobody knows why! The crimson coloration first appeared yesterday where the Yangtze meets the Jialin River, but it was also reported at other points along China’s longest river. Officials are currently investigating the cause of the dramatic color change, but so far they haven’t arrived at any conclusive answers.
A similar occurrence took place on China’s Jian River last December, which turned red after becoming polluted by a powerful dye. But so far, the Yangtze’s color change hasn’t been linked to any spills. “It looks like a pollutant phenomenon,” said Emily Stanley, a professor of limnology at the University of Wisconsin. “Water bodies that have turned red very fast in the past have happened because people have dumped dyes into them.” The news prompted Britain’s Daily Mail to note that rivers turning to blood is listed as a sign of impending armageddon, according to the Book of Revelations, but we wouldn’t advise taking too much stock in that.