The declaration on Friday will allow the counties contaminated by the spill to receive aid, even as schools, bars and restaurants have been closed and locals have been told not to drink, cook or bathe with tap water.

The spill originated at a coal-treatment plant on the banks of the Elk river in Charleston.
The river current carried the contaminated water downstream into a water-treatment plant, forcing authorities to tell the population not to use tap water.

Even before state Governor Earl Ray Tomblin told customers of West Virginia American Water not to drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water, some area residents noted on social networks that the water pipes had a suspicious smell.

The alarm was sounded immediately, prompting tens of thousands of citizens to buy all the bottled water from the stores and supermarkets in the nine-county area.

(Agencies)

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