Zimbabwe lake closed by pollution

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Harare (Reuter) - The Zimbabwean government has closed the capital's main source of water to commercial fishing and recreational activities after the death of thousands of fish from suspected pollution.

Chen Chimutengwende, the Environment and Tourism Minister, said the closure at Lake Chivero was to allow the government to determine the extent of the problem. He warned people around the area, 25 miles from Harare, against eating fish from the lake. He said efforts were being made to identify the source of the pollution and action would be taken against those responsible.

"I am warning manufacturing companies, local authorities and individuals to refrain from dumping toxic and hazardous substances and effluent into the Manyame river system and the lake," he said.

City authorities in Harare have assured worried residents that the water is safe to drink because it is treated.

First signs of the problem, which local environmentalists are billing as one of the worst to hit Harare's water supplies, came three weeks ago, when officials began seeing dead fish floating belly-up.

Scientists at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare blame high levels of ammonia, brought to the surface when cool temperatures allowed deep water to rise, for the death of the fish.