Stunning Photos: China’s Yangtze River Mysteriously Turns Bright Red

Officials are investigating the scarlet hue, which is likely due to pollution.

Yangtze river

A ship sails across the Yangtze and Jialin Rivers in Chongqing, China, on Sept. 6. (Photo: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

Kelly Zhou has written on a variety of topics for TakePart, predominantly politics, education, and wildlife.

A section of China’s Yangtze River turned a bright orange-red color on Sept. 6, leaving residents bewildered and amazed at the water’s strange hue. 

Chongqing, a city in southwest China, saw its section of the polluted river turn red, triggering an investigation about the color’s cause, reported the International Business Times.

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The Daily Telegraph reported that the scarlet color may be due to “industrial pollution in silt churned up by recent floods,” according to Chinese officials.

The Yangtze River, the longest one in Asia and the third longest in the world, is a significant part of China’s economy—but its waters suffer from industrial pollution. The Yangtze basin contributes nearly half of the country’s crop production and is the major waterway of China.

Officals have good reason to suspect a chemical culprit in red-river mystery. This isn’t the first time China has seen red: In December 2011, the Jian River turned into a “river of blood” after two small chemical plants illegally dumped red dye into the city’s storm water pipe.

Scroll below for more photos of Chongqing's scarlet river.


Residents stopped to examine the red section of the Yangtze River in Chongqing, China. (Photo: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

Some fishermen were unfazed by the bright red photo that colored the Yangtze River on Sept. 6. (Photo: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)


Some residents collected water bottles of the strangely colored red water, while others, like the fisherman above, continued about their business. (Photo: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)


A ship sails across the junction of the Yangtze River (left) and the Jialin River in Chongqing, China, as the red color starts to bleed across. (Photo: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

What would your first reaction be if you saw a river turned red? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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