Army officer drowns while retrieving chemical barrels on river in northeast China

14:25, August 01, 2010      

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A Chinese soldier drowned Friday in a river in northeast China's Jilin Province as he worked to retrieve chemical barrels that had been swept into the waterway, military authorities said Sunday.

Guan Xizhi, chief of staff in an engineer corps based at Shenyang Military Command, was carried away by floodwaters on the Songhua River near Hadashan Dam, Songyuan City. His body was found Saturday.

The man and four other soldiers were chaining boats together on the river to block the downstream passage of the thousands of barrels when a flash flood hit. The five were forced to jump into the rushing waters. All but Guan were rescued.

Some 3,000 chemical-filled barrels and 4,000 empty barrels were swept into the Songhua River Wednesday morning after floods hit the warehouses of two chemical companies in Jilin City, Jilin Province.

Each chemical-filled barrel contains about 170 kilograms of either trimethyl chloro silicane or hexamethyl disilazane.

Workers had retrieved 5,365 barrels - some filled, some empty - by 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Tests show the water in the river is safe.

Source: Xinhua


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