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Coal-choked furnace cuts heat to 10,000 China homes

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Dec 5 (Reuters) More than 10,000 households in northwest China have been without heat since Saturday and face several more days of sub-zero temperatures after low-quality coal caused a boiler to fail, Xinhua news agency said.

The central boiler furnace failed at a power company in the city of Urumqi due to a build-up of coal dregs more than 30 cm thick on its walls, Xinhua said today.

Company officials told Xinhua that 80 people were working around the clock to repair the boiler but that it could be three to five days before heat was restored.

The company had been forced to buy the low-quality coal from small coal mines because its main contractor, a large state mine, could only meet 80 per cent of its demand, Xinhua said.

Daytime high temperatures in Urumqi, a city of 2 million people, have recently been about minus 7 degrees Celsius (19 degrees Fahrenheit), and snow fell for three hours yesterday.

In August, coal suppliers trying to profit from the worst drought to hit the southwestern city of Chongqing in more than a century sold adulterated coal to power companies, damaging generators and aggravating a power crunch.

REUTERS SHB BD0957

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