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China gas leak forces evacuations, no injuries

Written by: Staff

BEIJING, Mar 26: A leak at a gas well in southwest China forced the emergency evacuation of up to 10,000 people at the same site where a devastating explosion occurred nearly three years ago, state media today (Mar 26, 2006) said.

No injuries were reported.

Workers ignited the leaking well in the town of Gaoqiao, part Kaixian county in the municipality of Chongqing, as a safety precaution to avoid a pressure build-up and possible blast.

Those within one kilometre of the well were evacuated from their homes. The official Xinhua news agency put the number at 5,000, but evening newspapers today said the figure was double that.

The local government also warned residents not to drink water from the river, Xinhua said.

In December 2003, 243 people died when a leak in the same area sent out a cloud of toxic gas that killed residents in their sleep and as they tried to flee the area, in one of China's worst industrial accidents.

The gas well, which is about 3,400 metres deep, was being operated by the Chuandong Drilling Company, and began to leak during final tests being conducted before the well started production, Xinhua said.


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