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Citarum River: Haunting Pictures Show Life Next One Of The World's Most Polluted Rivers

11/04/2014 15:06 BST | Updated 11/04/2014 15:59 BST

Once a tropical paradise, the Citarum river on the Indonesian island of Java is now a toxic soup containing dangerously high levels of heavy metals, rubbish and sewage.

With fish stock decimated, local fishermen have been forced to trawl the river for plastic, which they sell for recycling, a shocking new documentary has revealed.

rubbish river

Over 10m people live along the river’s banks, side by side a textile industry that supplies some of the world's biggest fashion brands.

At times, the water turns red, green, yellow and black because of the high concentration of dyes.

It has been linked with increased cancer rates, as well as skin diseases, mental illness and slow development among local children.

The fisherman pictured above, called Herman, told Channel 4’s Unreported World: "I don’t catch fish any more … they’re floating on the surface … I’m sure everyone knows the result of dumping rubbish like this. There are rules, but nobody is enforcing them."

Locals say textile factories illegally dump chemicals into the river at night and some nearby village wells contain four times the recommended safe levels of mercury.

The World’s Dirtiest River