Some 20,000 tonnes of diesel fuel has been released into the local river, turning it crimson – Vasiliy Ryabinin via AP

A governor in Siberia has accused local officials of trying to cover up the true scale of a massive fuel spill for two days, exacerbating what has been described as the Arctic’s worst environmental disaster in three decades.

Some 20,000 metric tonnes of diesel fuel spilled into the river system from a tank at a power plant near the city of Norilsk last Friday in the environmental catastrophe comparable only to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 when 37,000 tonnes of oil leaked off the coast of Alaska.

Thawing permafrost beneath the fuel tank is believed to have caused the spill that turned the local river

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