State media now says at least 35 people were killed and more than 160 others injured when an oil pipeline exploded in eastern China. Earlier reports spoke of 22 dead.
The blast pulverised part of the city of Qingdao in Shandong province, home to one of China’s largest crude oil import terminals, causing a fire that took hours to bring under control.
Local authorities say it happened as workers were trying to repair leaks in the underground pipeline, owned by Chinese oil refiner Sinopec. State TV reported that an oil spill
had spread across 3,000 square metres of sea water.
A Chinese trader warned the explosion would disrupt crude flows into China as the blast involved a major pipeline supplying several refineries.
With terrorism ruled out by authorities, an investigation is underway to establish what went wrong.
Nearly 28,000 people have been killed in industrial accidents in China in the first six months of this year, according to official figures.