Obama expresses anger at Michigan water crisis

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the Flint  water crisis. (Paul Sancya, AP)
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the Flint water crisis. (Paul Sancya, AP)

Detroit - President Barack Obama expressed anger on Wednesday at a high-profile health scare in Flint, Michigan, where lead-tainted water is believed to have sickened residents.

Wading into a debate that has seen local authorities accused of putting lives at risk by cutting corners and trying to save money, Obama said, "You can't short-change basic services that we provide to our people."

"If I was a parent up there I would be beside myself that my kids' health would be at risk," said Obama during a stop in nearby Detroit.

As part of cost-cutting, the city began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014 rather than continuing to buy it from Detroit.

Officials are accused of ignoring months of health warnings about the foul-smelling water as residents complained that it was making them sick.

Obama declared a state of emergency in Michigan on Saturday, freeing up federal aid to help Flint, a city of 100 000 at the epicenter of the scare.

On Tuesday he met Mayor Karen Weaver and "reiterated that his administration will continue to support state and local officials in their response," said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest.

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