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China pipeline blast leaves 12 dead, over 300 hurt: reports

A general view shows the site of an explosion at a plastics factory in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu province on July 28, 2010. At least two people died and up to 200 others were injured in the blast when a chemical pipeline ignited in the factory. Authorities were still trying to determine the total number of casualties from the blast, which blew out windows in buildings up to 300 metres away, reports said. Photo courtesy AFP.

Gulf strait still open after Japan tanker blast
The vital Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman remained open on Wednesday after an explosion hit a Japanese tanker in the oil-shipping corridor, the US Fifth Fleet said. "The Strait of Hormuz remains open for safe navigation and shipping lanes are unaffected by this incident," the Bahrain-based fleet said in a statement. The Japanese transport ministry said an oil tanker belonging to Mitsui OSK Lines was hit by an explosion attributed by crew to an attack early on Wednesday. "The cause of the explosion and extent of damage is currently unknown," the Fifth Fleet said. "Initial damage assessment from the ship's owner, Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., Japan, is that one life boat was blown off the ship and there is some damage to the starboard hatches." The US Navy had offered to help but the crew determined it was not needed, the statement said, adding the ship was heading to the port of Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates "under their own power to make repairs." The Strait of Hormuz, less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) at its widest point, separates Oman from Iran and is the gateway into the oil-rich Gulf. An estimated 40 percent of the world's crude oil passes through the strait on the way to global markets.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 28, 2010
At least 12 people died and more than 300 were injured by a powerful explosion triggered when a chemical pipeline ignited in eastern China on Wednesday, state media said.

Footage broadcast on state television showed a billowing column of flame and a plume of thick black smoke drifting over the city of Nanjing after the blast, which toppled nearby factory buildings.

The blast occurred in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, shortly after 10:00 am (0200 GMT) and caused heavy damage to the surrounding area, reports said.

Many hospitals had almost exhausted their blood stocks and local residents were rushing to mobile collection vehicles to donate blood, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"Many residents have been injured and sent to hospitals, we urgently need a lot of blood," the Jiangsu provincial blood centre appealed on its website.

State television said 12 people had died, without saying where the information was obtained from.

Xinhua quoted local government officials as saying at least five people had died, but that its reporters had seen six people recorded as dead at nearby hospitals.

The explosion reportedly occurred on the grounds of an abandoned plastics factory when a pipeline carrying ethylene was damaged while workers were dismantling buildings.

The leaking gas was ignited when a nearby motorist started their car engine, according to the local work safety administration.

The blast also blew out windows and caused damage to businesses and residences up to 300 metres away, while people further away fled their buildings, thinking an earthquake had struck.

More than 300 people were rushed to local hospitals for treatment, including 52 with serious injuries, the China News Service said. State television put the injured at more than 100, 15 of them seriously.

The explosion hit a bus passing through the area, injuring several passengers, Xinhua said.

Photos posted on the Internet showed at least one bus that had been completely burnt out, leaving only a charred skeleton.

"There are dozens of injured in our hospital. Their situations are not serious, most of them suffered burns," said a doctor at the city's Zhongda hospital, who refused to identify herself.

"Nobody has died in our hospital. There are injured people in every big hospital in Nanjing."

Xinhua said the fire triggered by the blast had been brought under control.

Deadly industrial accidents are routine in China, where basic safety provisions are often ignored.

Last week, an oil pipeline exploded in the northeastern port city of Dalian, triggering a spectacular blaze that burned throughout the weekend and spilled about 1,500 tonnes of oil into the Yellow Sea off Liaoning province.

The incident was one of China's worst-ever oil spills.

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