At least 35 people are confirmed dead and 166 others injured after a leaking pipeline in Shandong Province caught fire and exploded on Friday morning, Xinhua reports.
The accident happened around 10:30 a.m. at the crossing between Haihe Road and Zhaitangdao Road in Huangdao District as workers were repairing a petroleum pipeline, according to the Qingdao government’s publicity office. The pipeline had begun leaking oil at around 3 a.m. at the crossing between Qinghuangdao Road and Zhaitangdao Road, the office said.
Oil leaked from the Sinopec pipeline into the municipal pipe network, which caused the explosion, according to an initial investigation by the rescue headquarters at the scene.
As of now, 65 people are being treated in serious condition, according to a statement by the Qingdao municipal health bureau on its official Weibo account.
According to the report, at least 1,000 square meters of road surface was covered in leaked oil at Zhaitangdao Road and some 3,000 square meters of sea water was polluted by oil when it spilled into Jiaozhou Bay through the rainwater pipeline.
The fire has been extinguished and barricades have been set up to stop more oil from entering the sea, however, Xinhua reports that an oil belt with a width of up to three meters could be seen around the site of the explosion around 2:40 p.m.
President Xi Jinping has called for maximum effort in searching for survivors of the blast, according to another report.
“Xi asked local authorities to spare no effort to rescue the injured and strengthen safety to eradicate such incidents.”
Authorities have ruled out a terrorist attack as then cause of the explosion.