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Rediff.com  » News » 35 killed, 166 injured in massive oil pipeline blast in China

35 killed, 166 injured in massive oil pipeline blast in China

November 22, 2013 21:15 IST

At least 35 people were killed and 166 others injured when a leaking oil pipeline exploded on Fridayin the densely populated coastal city of Qingdao causing extensive damage, in one of the worst industrial accidents in China this year.

It was a nightmare for Qingdao residents as explosions following high intensity flames burst out from the ground damaging buildings and turning over vehicles.

At least 35 people were killed and over 166 injured in the mishap, state-run CCTV reported.

Among the injured, 65 are in serious conditions, Qingdao municipal health bureau said in its latest statement.

Oil leaked from the Sinopec pipeline into the municipal pipe network, which caused the explosion, according to an initial investigation by the rescue headquarters at the scene.

CCTV footage showed damage across a vast area in the city.

About 1,000 square meters of road surface was covered in leaked oil at Zhaitangdao Road.

Some of the oil had spilled into JiaozhouBay through the rainwater pipeline, and about 3,000 square meters of sea water was polluted by oil, said the rescue headquarters.

The series of explosions left cracks in the streets, the longest of which was about 1.5 km, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

"I have only seen this in disaster films," said a rescuer surnamed Xue, who drove past the streets where the blast happened.

Xue said he was astonished by the sight of a bus sandwiched between huge cracks in the street with passengers trapped inside.

Some cars along the street are turned over, some are covered with concrete slabs, and some others have lost their window glass," he said.

Fires and explosions also occurred on the polluted sea waters at the entrance to the bay, according to the headquarters.

An oil belt with a width of two to three meters could be seen in waters around the site of the explosion.

No new oil leakage from the pipeline had been found.

The district government has ruled out a terror attack as the cause, while the State Administration of Work Safety has sent a work team to the scene to guide the rescue efforts.

Chinese President Xi Jinping asked for maximum effort in the search for survivors of the blast.

He also asked local authorities to spare no effort to rescue the injured, find the cause of the accident and strengthen safety.

The Qingdao municipal government has ordered scrutiny of the safety of its pipeline network after the accident.

Environmental monitoring showed that the concentration of toxic materials in the air was below the national standard.

The local government has told citizens to remain calm.

Peng Yu, a Qingdao resident, hoped that the government would continue to release the air quality reports to protect residents' health.

Some residents have been evacuated from the area for fear that a second explosion might occur.

More then 800 doctors and nurses from the hospital have participated in the rescue efforts, he added.

The 176-km pipeline is run by the state owned Sinopec, China's largest oil refiner, and links oil depots in Huangdao with WeifangCity, home to a few petrochemical plants.

The pipeline, with a total investment of 1.3 billion yuan (USD 211.8 million) was put into operation this August. It has an annual transportation capacity of 15 million tonnes.

Huangdao District is connected with the city proper by the QingdaoJiaozhouBayBridge.

The blast was China's third deadliest industrial disaster this year, behind a chicken factory fire in June in Jilin that killed 121 people and a mining accident in March, also in Jilin, that killed 36.

China has an abysmal record on industrial safety as lax regulations and enforcement lead to low safety standards.

Around 28,000 people were killed or went missing in workplace accidents in the first half of this year, state media reported. 

K J M Varma Beijing
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