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27 missing after bus plunges off road in southwest China

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 18, 2010
At least 27 people were missing feared dead Sunday when a passenger bus fell off a mountainous road and into a river in southwest China, a local official and state media said.

The accident occurred in Sichuan province's Aba prefecture, a region largely populated by ethnic Tibetans and other minorities, a Danba county government official who declined to be named told AFP.

The cause of the Sunday morning accident, in which 11 people were also injured, is under investigation, she said.

Xinhua news agency earlier reported that 23 people were killed in the accident before updating the report to 11 injured and 27 missing.

"Due to the very deep waters where the bus fell in, there was no possibility of the survival of those missing," Xinhua said.

The official refused to comment on the chances of finding survivors, only saying that a search was ongoing.

The bus was travelling from Aba's Maerkang county to the provincial capital of Chengdu when the accident occurred, Xinhua said. It was forced to take a detour on a secondary road due to repairs on the main road, it said.

China's roads are among the most dangerous in the world, with traffic laws widely flouted.

Almost 70,000 people died in road accidents in 2009, or around 190 fatalities per day, according to police statistics.

earlier related report
Slick seeping into Yellow Sea after oil facility blast
Beijing (AFP) July 18, 2010 - Workers were scrambling to contain a huge oil slick from seeping further into the Yellow Sea on Sunday after an explosion at a northeast China oil storage port, state media said.

Over 2,000 firefighters fought a spectacular blaze that broke out at the facility belonging to China National Petroleum Corp, the country's main oil company, late Friday, China Central Television said.

No deaths or injuries were reported following the incident at the oil storage facility, located in Dalian city, Liaoning province.

After extinguishing the blaze on Saturday, workers began using oil skimmers and dispersants to contain the oil slick from spreading beyond the port into the Yellow Sea, the report said.

At least 20 vessels were working to contain the 50 square-kilometre (20 square mile) spill.

According to a preliminary investigation, a leak from a Libyan-flagged tanker, which was unloading oil at the port, caught fire leading to explosions at two pipelines at the facility.

Television footage showed firefighters battling huge flames as thick black smoke filled the skies above the port.

Neither state media nor China National Petroleum have said how much oil was consumed in the explosion and the subsequent fire that burned for 15 hours, nor was it clear how much oil leaked into the port.

In a statement on its website, China National Petroleum said that it had launched an investigation into the accident and said that the flow of oil into the port had been stopped.

earlier related report
Firefighters tackle huge blaze at Chinese port
Beijing (AFP) July 17, 2010 - More than 2,000 firefighters were mobilised Saturday to tackle a spectacular blaze which broke out at a Chinese port after explosions hit two oil pipelines, state media reported.

Crews brought the fire in the northeast port of Dalian under control after battling the flames for 15 hours, and state television channel CCTV showed the area engulfed by clouds of thick black smoke.

The blasts hit pipelines belonging to China National Petroleum Corp, the country's main oil company, on Friday evening, well away from residential areas, a spokesman for city authorities in Dalian told the Xinhua news agency.

A strong burning smell was noticeable in the city, but the authorities said the blaze did not release toxic fumes, and no casualties were reported.

The accident happened after a tanker carrying 300,000 tonnes of oil unloaded its cargo, Xinhua said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao ordered a deputy prime minister to the scene to direct operations, Xinhua reported.

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