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Chinese villagers call for relocation after massive hydrogen explosion

20 July 2015

According to a report by Radio Free Asia (RFA), residents living next to an industrial site in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong that saw a massive explosion on July 16 are calling on the government to relocate their villages over fears of further industrial accidents. The blast ripped through a facility belonging to the Rizhao Shida petrochemical company, which also operates a petrochemical terminal at Rizhao Port. 

A locally shot image of the Rizhao explosion
A locally shot image of the Rizhao explosion

Citizens living near the explosion site have been evacuated while Rizhao Steel, which is also near the site, has suspended operations and evacuated workers.

The tank, containing liquid hydrogen, caught fire in the Lanbei part of the port. The city sent more than 50 fire engines and about 300 firemen to put out the fire and local authorities seeded the clouds in the area to make it rain and help douse the inferno.

Other explosions have occurred at another nearby factory, according to local sources.

Eyewitness photos and videos posted online showed a massive fireball rising over buildings and industrial structures after the blast at the chemical plant near Rizhao Port.

A resident of nearby Xipan village said damage to people's homes was extensive. RFA quoted a local villager saying people had taken to the streets to protest in the wake of the explosion, and that seven had been detained by police.

The resident said the blast had terrified local people, and that entire villages needed to be relocated away from the industrial zone. He said the area is surrounded by heavy petrochemicals factories just a few metres from people's homes, and that local resentment had been simmering for a long time.

"They occupied our farmland, so there was a lot of resentment here even before the explosion," the Xipan resident said.

"Our village is totally surrounded by factories; the tanks belonging to Lanqiao and Shida Technology are so close, just 30 or 40 metres away. There are even people living just 10 metres away from them."

"We are protesting, because we want to be relocated. We can't live here any more."

He said local people are also worried about the effect on their health of chronic pollution from the factories.

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