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Orange snow in West Siberia not toxic - emergencies ministry

NOVOSIBIRSK, February 2 (RIA Novosti) - The yellow-orange snow that fell in West Siberian regions Wednesday contained no toxic substances and its color was the result of a sand storm in neighboring Kazakhstan, experts said Friday.

"Experts have established that the substances in the snow are not toxic, but the iron content in the snow samples was four times above the norm," the press service of the local emergencies situations department said.

A public warning was issued in West Siberia's Omsk Region Thursday after polluted snow, yellowed and oil-stained, fell over an area of about 1,500 square kilometers (1,000 square miles), affecting some 49 communities with a population of at least 27,000.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said traces of discolored snow were also discovered in two districts of the Tomsk Region and in one district of the Tyumen Region in West Siberia.

"Preliminary results of tests on the snow revealed the presence of sand and clay dust particles, which caused the unusual color," the emergencies department of the Tomsk Region said, adding that the particles must have been blown into the upper atmosphere following a recent snowstorm in northern Kazakhstan.

The Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring said the yellow and orange snow that fell in Russia's three regions was not harmful to humans. The service also said the snow's nitrogen content was four times the norm.

Russia's Federal Space Agency said the colored snow was not connected with rocket launches. The Tyumen and Omsk regions border on Kazakhstan, where the Baikonur space center, which Russia leases from the Central Asian country, is based.

"There have been no rocket launches since January 18," the agency's press secretary, Igor Panarin, said.


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