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Death toll from NW China tank blast rises to five
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16:29, June 26, 2008

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The death toll from Wednesday's coal tar tank explosion in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region rose to five, with two people still missing, regional work safety watchdog said on Thursday.

Rescuers found two more bodies on Thursday morning at the site of the Fukang Iron Coke Co. Ltd., a private company, in Fukang City, said Mao Chuntang, a Xinjiang work safety administration official.

A 2,000-cubic meter tank holding coal tar, a viscous black liquid used in roofing, waterproofing and insulating materials, exploded and caused a fire at 4:02 p.m. on Wednesday.

The exact amount of coal tar in the tank at the time of the accident was unclear. Emergency workers were still draining the wreckage as they searched for the missing.

Mao said there were "improper actions by relevant staff" involved in the explosion but the exact cause was still being investigated.

Fukang's safety production license had been revoked and its production halted, according to the official. Its bank accounts were also frozen.

Dozens of fire fighters extinguished the blaze about three hours after the incident.

Eight other tanks nearby were not affected and had been cooled down.

Local environmental authorities said earlier that they had not detected pollution in subterranean water sources or nearby rivers. However, the concentration of some chemicals in the air, such as benzene, toluene and dimethylbenzene, had exceeded standards.

Established in 2004, the company had an annual production capacity of 50,000 tonnes of tar.

Source: Xinhua

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