A river that winds through a Russian city within the Arctic Circle has turned a disturbing shade of deep red.
The Daldykan River near Norilsk in Siberia became crimson this week, prompting shocked residents to post images to social media networks.
According to some rumours, the nearby Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, owned by metals giant Norilsk Nickel, could be responsible for a discharge of industrial waste into the river, thus altering its colour.
While the company is investigating the matter, a spokesman told the Siberian Times it has not yet confirmed a leak.
Meanwhile, some are choosing to interpret the river’s startling new appearance as evidence of Biblical prophecy.
Norilsk resident Yekaterina Basalyga posted pictures of the river on her Instagram account, writing: “A leak into the river from the Nadezhda factory. You get scared when you see this. And people are still gathering mushrooms and berries.”
One commenter responded by quoting from the Book of Revelation: “The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.”
Another remarked: “These are signs of the time the bible already tells us about these things happening.”
Sergey Donskoy, head of the Ministry of Natural Resources, said in a statement on Wednesday that it was probing the incident, citing a possible cause for the pollution as being a “break in a Norilsk Nickel slurry pipe.”
If the colour change is a chemical leak, the town - believed to be one of the most polluted on earth - could well be in danger, The Verge warns.
Ronald Cohen, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, told the website: “When the colour is that red, then that isn’t water you want to drink and that is not water you want to use for irrigational water, and you don’t want your livestock to drink it either.”