September 16, 2008

1st-Ld-Writethru: China Chemical Plant Blast Death Toll Rises to Two, One Missing

1st-Ld-Writethru: China chemical plant blast death toll rises to two, one missing

SHENYANG, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers had retrieved two bodies at the site of Sunday's petrochemical plant blast in northeast China and were still searching for a missing worker, the local government said on Monday afternoon.

The body of Wang Guiyan, a female killed in the explosion, was sent to a Liaoyang City funeral home in Liaoning Province on Sunday.

A second unnamed victim was found at the Dengta Jinhang Petrochemical Co. Ltd. plant at about 9:10 p.m. on Sunday. The local public security authority was undertaking a DNA test to determine identity.

Three workers, two men and one woman, were on duty when the explosion occurred.

An initial investigation indicated human error led to overheating and excessive pressure in a set of barrel-like production facilities, according to the investigation panel, which comprised government officials and experts.

They said the accident didn't cause any chemical leak and there was no need to evacuate people.

A test result released on Monday morning by the local environment protection and health authorities also indicated the local drinking water was not contaminated and was safe.

The local government launched a safety overhaul of chemical plants on Monday and an emergency plan was on standby to ensure water supply for residents and production use.

Pungent odour could still be smelt around the plant and water in a nearby stream appeared dark green and feculent.

Relative local authorities were working on measures to repair damaged houses nearby and to compensate families of the victims.

Zeng Ming, who suffered a leg fracture in the blast, said he expected compensation and help from the government. The pork retailer was in a slaughterhouse close to the plant when the blast occurred.

"I could not overcome such a calamity on my own," Zeng said in a local hospital, expressing a deep worry about his future.

The explosion occurred at 5:46 a.m. on Sunday in the Jianshanzi Village plant, Luodatai Town of Dengta City, which is under the Liaoyang administration.

It toppled a workshop and shattered windows in nearby buildings, leaving a three-meter-deep hole in the northeast corner of the plant.

The explosion could be heard 40 km away.

Many locals were injured and at least five people suffered fractured limbs.

The plant is privately owned and employs more than 80 workers. It manufactures lubricant additives, gasoline explosive resistant agent and industrial sulfur, among others, according to the company's website.

It is just over 50 km from Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province. It covers about 60,000 square meters and is adjacent to large state-owned petrochemical enterprises such as Liaoyang Chemical Group and Liaohe Oilfield.

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