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Chinese military official drowns, officials recover barrels

A senior Chinese military officer drowned while trying to retrieve chemical-filled barrels swept away by floods.

Beijing: A senior Chinese military officer
drowned while trying to retrieve chemical-filled barrels swept
away by floods, even as a grim situation prevailed in the
northwestern Heilongjiang province as waters of a river were
found to be contaminated with chemicals.

Meanwhile, officials have recovered 6,387 chemical
barrels from the Songhua River, official Xinhua news agency

Guan Xizhi, Chief of Staff in an Engineer Corps based
at Shenyang Military Command, was swept away by floodwaters on
the Songhua River near Hadashan Dam, Songyuan City.

His body was found yesterday, official Xinhua news
agency reported today.

Guan and four other soldiers were chaining boats
together on the river to block the downstream passage of the
thousands of barrels when a flash flood hit.

The five were forced to jump into the rushing waters.
All but Guan were rescued, it said.

China mobilised thousands of soldiers to retrieve
7,000 chemical barrels washed away by floods from two

Official said a total of 3,662 barrels filled with
colorless and highly explosive chemicals -- mainly trimethyl
chloro silicane and hexamethyl disilazane -- and 3,476 empty
ones were swept into Wende River after floods destroyed the
warehouses of two chemical plants in Jilin City, Jilin
Province on Wednesday.

The barrels were intercepted after more than 12,000
soldiers, armed police, emergency workers and local residents
in Jilin fanned out along the river`s 235 km waterways to
collect the barrels, the officials said.

Till this evening, officials have recovered 6,387
chemical barrels from the Songhua River.

Tests show that the flood waters of the Songhua
River that entered Heilongjiang province were "chemically
tainted," the official Xinhua news agency reported today,
quoting a senior local official as saying.

The affected waters of the Songhua River entered
Heilongjiang yesterday, Du Jiahao, executive vice governor of
Heilongjiang, told reporters at Guqia port, Zhaoyuan City,
where the river crosses the border of Jilin and Heilongjiang.
The river also flows into Russia.

Officials said none of the barrels -- some filled with
170 kilograms of flammable liquid -- have entered Heilongjiang
but water quality tests indicate that abnormal amount of
chemicals, suspected to be caused by leaks of the barrels were
found in the water, the report said.

Previously, the water quality tests conducted in Jilin
have shown that "a very small quantity" of hexamethyl
disiloxane was found in the water.

But Sun Lili, deputy general engineer with the Design
and Research Institute of Petrochemical Technology in Jilin,
said the amounts "posed no threat" and the impacts "can be


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