Death toll in China's pipeline blasts mounts to 52

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Beijing, Nov 24: Death toll in the twin oil pipeline explosions in east China on Sunday mounted to 52 with the recovery of four more bodies while 11 others remained missing even as rescue efforts were stepped up to locate any survivors.

Four more bodies were found in the lengthy stretch of the road in Huangdao district of port city Qingdao which erupted like a volcano on Friday when the leaking pipeline beneath exploded, tossing vehicles around likes toys.

The two explosions occurred when workers were trying to plug a leak after oil from the state-owned pipeline flowed into a municipal pipe network.

The explosions, one of the country's worst industrial accidents, prompted the country's largest oil refiner Sinopec to apologise yesterday.

The two explosions occurred when workers were trying to plug a leak.

Eleven others were missing in the deadly accident, Xinhua reported, quoting rescue headquarters. Footage on the state-run CCTV showed tonnes of oil stagnating in many places.

About 3,000 square metres of sea in the coastal area was contaminated, the report said. Search and rescue operations are still going on at the explosion scene.

Around 18,000 people have been evacuated from the areas affected by the blast. Qingdao environmental protection authority said the oil spill into the sea and underground water has been brought under control. Barriers have been erected around the contaminated areas along the coastline.

Meanwhile, Sinopec denied earlier reports that the exploded pipeline was put into operation only this August. It said the pipeline was in use for 27 years, linking Huangdao with the city of Dongying. The blasts, causing extensive damage to life and property, raised questions over the safety of the pipelines laid in civilian areas.

The pipeline blasts also caused extensive damage to the surrounding buildings. About 1,000 square metres of road surface was covered in leaked oil at Zhaitangdao Road, the CCTV report said.


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