Beijing, Nov 22 — At least 35 people were killed and 166 others injured when a leaking oil pipeline caught fire and exploded Friday in the coastal city of Qingdao in China’s Shandong province, authorities said.
Among the 166 injured, 65 are in serious condition, Xinhua reported citing a comment posted Friday on the official microblog of the Qingdao municipal health bureau on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging service.
The accident happened around 10.30 a.m. at the crossing between Haihe and Zhaitangdao road in Huangdao district when workers were repairing a petroleum pipeline, according to the Qingdao government’s publicity office.
The pipeline had begun leaking oil at around 3 a.m. at the crossing between Qinghuangdao and Zhaitangdao road, the office said.
Oil leaking from the Sinopec pipeline into the municipal pipe network caused the explosion, according to an initial investigation.
The district government has ruled out a terror attack as the cause.
About 1,000 sq m of road surface was covered with leaked oil at the Zhaitangdao road. Some of the oil had spilled into the Jiaozhou Bay through the rainwater pipeline, said the rescue headquarters.
Fires and explosions also occurred in the polluted sea waters at the entrance to the bay, it said.
Oil flow through the pipeline was shut off at about 3.15 a.m. The fire was put out, and barricades were set up to stop the oil from entering the sea.
Environmental monitoring showed that the concentration of toxic materials in the air was below the national standard.
The 176-km pipeline, which links oil depots in Huangdao to Weifang city, home to a few petrochemical plants, is owned by Sinopec, China’s largest oil refiner.
Pieces of cement and debris were scattered around the explosion site, which is close to the coast.
The pipeline, with a total investment of 1.3 billion yuan ($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 by the Qingdao Jiaozhou Bay Bridge.