Running water was restored in a major Chinese city Sunday, five days after a shutdown caused by a chemical spill, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Water supplies resumed in Harbin at 6 p.m., Xinhua said in a short dispatch. It did not give any more details.

Resumption of service occurred five hours earlier than scheduled. But it was not immediately clear whether it would continue or whether the entire city had its supply restored.

Xu Guangwei, a spokesman for the Harbin city government, could not confirm the Xinhua report.

Water service had been suspended since Tuesday after authorities feared that the Songhua River, the city's water source, had been contaminated by toxins after a Nov. 13 chemical plant explosion.

Local authorities said Sunday that chemicals in the water had fallen back to safe levels.

The Harbin disaster began with the explosion at the chemical plant in Jilin, a city about 120 miles southeast. Five people were killed and 10,000 evacuated.

But it was only last week that the government announced that the Songhua had been poisoned with 100 tons of benzene.