Beijing: Around 18,000 people were evacuated from a district in east China where an oil pipeline explosion killed 47 people as the largest oil refiner on Saturday apologised for one of the country`s worst industrial accidents.
The blast occurred yesterday in Huangdao district of port city Qingdao when workers were trying to plug a leak after oil from the state-owned pipeline flowed into a municipal pipe network, killing 47 people and injuring 136 others.
A total of 18,000 people were evacuated from the areas affected by the blast. Students from nearby schools and local residents were evacuated and given masks.
The latest government report did not, however, state a reason for the evacuation.
The 176-km pipeline is run by state-owned Sinopec, China`s largest oil refiner, and links oil depots in Huangdao with Weifang city, home to a few petrochemical plants.
Some of the oil had spilled into Jiaozhou Bay through the rainwater pipeline, and about 3,000 square metres of sea water was polluted by oil, said the rescue headquarters.
Sinopec chairman Fu Chengyu apologised for the explosion.
In a statement issued today, Fu said he feels greatly grieved by the huge losses of life and property. He apologised to people of Qingdao and the country.
He said Sinopec will conduct rescue work at all costs and cooperate with the investigation team dispatched by the central government, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Barricades running 3,000 metres long and 10 tons of dispersant are being used to clean up spills in the sea. 22 oil-clearing vessels, 10 fishing boats and six patrolling vessels have been dispatched, Xinhua reported, quoting local officials.
Water, gas and electricity were cut off in parts of the district after the blast. 40,000 servings of free food were distributed for breakfast and lunch for those affected.
The local government distributed 2,000 candles to residents in Huangdao after the explosion and has provided water for local residents since last night.
So far, electricity has been restored in all but two communities in the district, the local government said.
The series of explosions left cracks in the streets, the longest of which was about 1.5 km. Fires and explosions also occurred on the polluted sea waters at the entrance to the bay.