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East China pipeline blast and fire kills 22

22 November 2013

At least 22 people have been killed after a leaking underground oil pipeline caught fire in the city of Qingdao. Xinhua said the blast happened as workers were trying to repair the pipeline, quoting local officials. Local sources said that the number of dead could rise. The number of injured has yet to be confirmed. 

Qingdao, Shandong province, Eastern China
Qingdao, Shandong province, Eastern China

The blast blew a road apart, overturned cars and sent thick black smoke billowing over the eastern coastal city. More than 100 fire fighters were called to tackle the fire which took several hours to bring under control, halting movement around the city and interrupting operations at the city's port.

The pipeline is owned by Sinopec, which identified it as a crude oil pipeline connecting Huangdao to the city of Weifang. Qingdao is one of China's largest crude oil import terminals, supplying at least two major Sinopec facilities, the 240,000-barrel-per-day Qingdao refinery and Sinopec Qilu Petrochemical Corp, as well as many small, independent refineries.

Local officials said oil had leaked into the port and caught fire, and that barriers had been put in place to prevent further leaks.

The authorities have ruled out terrorism but say the incident remains under investigation.

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