BEIJING (Reuters) - Authorities in the eastern Chinese city of Jingjiang have suspended water supplies after quality abnormalities were detected, state media said on Friday, with hundreds of thousands of people affected in China's latest water pollution scare.

Officials in Jingjiang, a city on the Yangtze River in Jiangsu province, did not offer any further details about why the water was shut off, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"The government has started an emergency response plan," Xinhua said, citing a brief government microblog post.

State broadcaster CCTV said 680,000 people had been affected by the shut-off. It quoted other domestic media as saying supplies would resume later on Friday.

Concern over water quality in Jingjiang comes soon after the cancer-inducing chemical benzene was found to be 20 times above national safety levels in the western city of Lanzhou in April.

That prompted a rush on bottled water in the heavily industrialized city of 3.6 million people in Gansu province, one of China's most polluted cities. [ID:nL3N0N32JN]

In 2005, water supplies to the northeastern city of Harbin were cut off after an explosion at a chemical plant spilled benzene into the Songhua River, pushing levels to more than 100 times safe limits.

Beijing has identified the environment as one of its top priorities after years of unfettered economic growth, but the government has struggled to make regional governments and industries comply with laws.


(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Paul Tait)