26 killed as explosions rock Xinjiang

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-30 06:39

Twenty-six people were killed and many others injured by an explosion in a colliery and an oil tank blast in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region over the weekend, Xinhua reported.

Temperatures at the mouth of the coal mine reached 1,000 C after the underground explosion, which killed 14 miners instantly. Another six were burned in the blast.

The coal mine explosion occurred at 2:35 am on Saturday in Dianchanggou Town, Miquan, 40 kilometres from Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang.

Another three minor explosions followed the first one within three hours, reports said.

The coal mine is within the precinct of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a special organization which handles its own administrative and judicial affairs within the reclamation areas under its administration.

Huang Guoqiang, deputy director of the Administration of Work Safety of the XPCC, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that the bodies of all 14 dead miners were found in three hours of rescue work.

The cause of the explosion was last night still under investigation, but preliminary results indicate it was a coal dust blast rather than a gas explosion, as the mine was said to contain little gas, Xinhua reported.

Worked since 1958, the mine is privately owned after a restructuring from State ownership.

The mine is designed to have an annual production capability of 96,000 tons with an overall estimated reserve of 120,000 tons.

Oil tank blast

The evening after the colliery disaster 12 more people were killed when an oil tank blew up in the Dushanzi district of Kramay, a renowned oil town in Xinjiang.

The tank, which was still under construction at a China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) plant, exploded at around 7:20 pm on Saturday evening.

Half of the 24 workers at the scene were killed, all the rest were injured, but none suffered life-threatening injuries.

Upon completion, the 100,000-cubic-metre tank will be used to store crude oil, imported via pipeline from Kazakhstan.

All the workers were from the Anhui Antisepsis Engineering Company. The explosion occurred when they were painting anticorrosive materials on top of the tank.

The explosion may have been triggered by a reaction from organic materials in the paint, Sheng Shaokun, deputy director of the Administration of Work Safety of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

The oil tank is part of a 10 million-ton oil refining and million-ton ethylene project initiated by CNPC in August last year and boasts a total investment of 30 billion yuan (US$ 3.75 billion).

The project is a key part of the energy co-operation strategy between China and Kazakhstan and one of the symbolic projects of the country's go-west campaign.

The whole project is expected to be completed by 2008.

Yesterday, local authorities ruled out the possibility of a second explosion or serious damage to the local environment.

The blast will also not affect the normal operation of the China-Kazakhstan oil pipeline, which runs through the Dushanzi area.