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Plagues loom as Kenyan river turns red? No, 2016 photo of Russian river polluted by possible factory leak

A Facebook user has shared a photo of a river with deep red water, claiming it is in the Kenyan county of Narok. This is at a time when desert locusts continue to destroy crops in many of the country’s other counties. 

“A River In Narok mysteriously turns blood Red days after locusts have attacked Mandera and Tana River counties, heading towards Meru,” the caption reads.

It adds in Kiswahili: “Niliwaambia ni kubaya plagues ndio hizo. Miguna Miguna ndio Moses na mumemweka nje. Uhuru ni pharaoh.”

This roughly translates as: “Things are thick. The [biblical] plagues are here. Miguna Miguna is Moses and [president] Uhuru [Kenyatta] is the pharaoh.

This is a reference to 10 plagues of Egypt described in the bible. In the first plague, the waters of the Nile river were turned to blood. The eighth was a plague of locusts.

Miguna Miguna is an outspoken Kenyan lawyer and politician who holds dual Canadian citizenship. In 2018 he was deported from Kenya for swearing in opposition leader Raila Odinga as the “people's president”. His plans to return to Kenya from Canada have been consistently frustrated by authorities.

And Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan have already, or are likely to, suffer crop destruction from the locust infestation, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

But was there “a river of blood” in Kenya’s Narok county?

River in Russian industrial city

A reverse image search reveals that the photo was not taken in Kenya, and isn’t recent.

We found it in September 2016 reports by the US ABC News Network and National Geographic. It shows the Daldykan river in Russia, which flows through the industrial city of Norilsk above the Arctic Circle.

The photo was originally posted by a Russian Instagram user on 6 September 2016.

According to 2016 reports, the people of Norilsk were startled when the river changed from its usual blue-green colour to bright red in a few days.

“There is no official scientific report identifying a reason for the change, but two theories have emerged,” National Geographic said at the time.

“The first is that the red colour comes from the large quantity of iron that occurs naturally in the ground in that region. The second is a chemical leak.”

ABC News reported that Russia's Environment Ministry had issued a statement that preliminary information suggested the cause was a leak from factory waste pipes. – Dancan Bwire


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