President visits oil blast victims
Published 25/11/2013 | 03:21
China's president has visited victims of deadly explosions from a ruptured pipeline owned by the country's largest oil company that ripped up roads in the port city of Qingdao .
The official death toll from the blasts rose to 52 after rescuers found more bodies in the aftermath of Friday's industrial accident in eastern China. Eleven people are still missing.
The government said earlier that 136 people were injured, 10 critically, in the accident, the deadliest involving state-owned company Sinopec.
President Xi Jinping visited a hospital in Qingdao, holding the hand of an elderly patient and patting the arm of another. He told medical staff to put all their efforts into helping the injured.
The pipeline ruptured and leaked for about 15 minutes on to a street and into the sea before it was shut off. Hours later, as workers cleaned up the spill, the oil caught fire and exploded in two locations.
Sinopec's expansion of petrochemical projects has met public resistance and the blasts will add to growing concern about safety and environmental risks.
Sinopec has apologised for the explosions, which ripped slabs of pavement and overturned vehicles, saying it would investigate and "give timely reports".
Around 18,000 residents were evacuated following the explosions.
It was China's second-deadliest industrial accident of the year, after a chicken factory fire in June in northeastern Jilin province that killed 121 people.