China will severely punish anyone who lied about or tried to cover up a massive toxic chemical spill last month that polluted a major river and temporarily cut off water supplies to millions, the government said Wednesday. The warning was Beijing's first acknowledgment that it had a problem with officials trying to hide the extent and impact of the massive spill. It comes more than three weeks after the spill occurred and after the pollution had already passed numerous cities, prompting them to shut down river-fed water supplies. A Cabinet-level team headed by Li has been assigned to investigate the spill and will report directly to the top leadership, Xinhua said. Li also vowed to prosecute those directly responsible for the spill.