13 December 2019
Rescuers search for survivors at the debris-covered basketball court of a school after an explosion in a Sinopec Corp oil pipeline in Huangdao


An explosion at an oil pipeline in Qingdao in East China’s Shandong province on Friday has killed at least 52 people as of Sunday afternoon, according to the official Xinhua news agency. More than 130 people were injured, with 50 of them seriously hurt, it said. 

The blast, said to have been triggered by an oil leak at a nearby facility, is at a pipeline owned by China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) (00386.HK. President Xi Jinping {習近平} and Premier Li Keqiang {李克強} have called for speedy rescue and relief efforts and the State Council has set up an investigation group to look into the accident.

According to Xinhua, 5.52 kilometers of sewage pipelines were damaged as oil coming from a nearby pipeline caused an explosion when some Sinopec engineers were fixing the oil spill. A lot of water, heat and gas pipelines in the area were ruptured.

After the explosion, a large amount of oil was floating on the sea surface, causing serious pollution. Premier Li said government departments and oil pipeline operators must learn a lesson and improve safety standards to avoid such accidents.

The explosion may cause a slowdown in new project investments by the state-owned oil giants, which are responsible for ensuring the safety of their facilities, according to some observers.

To lift the overall safety standard of the oil industry, the central government should order the oil and gas firms to improve their outsourcing system and ensure that their contractors are up to standard in safety requirements, they said. However, the pace of such reform will probably be slow as it demands a huge change in the oil and gas industry’s tendering system.

Group says Tiananmen attack a jihadist operation

Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), an Islamist militant group, said the terror attack in Tiananmen Square on October 28 was a “jihadist operation” by holy warriors, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported late Sunday, citing the SITE Intelligence Group’s monitoring service. The TIP had released a Uygur-language audio recording from its leader, Abdullah Mansour, in which he said the “jihadist operations” were only the beginning of attacks on Chinese authorities, the report said. On Oct. 28, three people believed to be from Xinjiang drove an SUV into a crowd at Tiananmen Square and set it on fire, killing themselves and two tourists.

Govt targets price monopolies in cars, drugs

The National Development and Reform Commission is setting its sights on price monopolies in six major sectors, including pharmaceuticals and cars, Xinhua reported Sunday, citing an official in the commission’s anti-monopoly bureau. The other sectors are telecoms, aviation, home appliances and household chemicals, bureau deputy inspector Lu Yanchun was quoted as saying. Both provincial and central government agencies have the legal tools to tackle monopolies, he said.

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