Major Chinese river starts to run dry after months without rain

Boats are no longer able to cruise along the Songhua in Harbin city after water levels fall to their lowest level in years.

The Songhua River, which flows through the centre of Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, is starting to dry up in places, forcing companies that run river cruises to halt operations.

The water level has been falling continuously this year, Xinhua news agency reported, with little rain in the spring time. The city has seen no rainfall for the past month.

Many sections of the riverbed have dried up, and local residents have been digging for clams before the surface becomes cracked and hardened.

Boat companies that carry tourists to Sun Island in the middle of the river last week suspended their operations because of low water levels and are unsure when they will be able to reopen.

The river, the biggest tributary of the Amur, is a major waterway in the northeast of the country and flows through Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces.

It often freezes over in the region’s severe winters and last year a man in Harbin had a lucky escape when he tried to drive his SUV over the river only for the ice to crack and the car to sink.

It previously made international news after a major chemical spill in which 100 tonnes of benzene was spilled into the river and even reached the Amur River in 2005.

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