200 killed in China gas explosion
BEIJING: A gas well blow-out in southwest China turned a 25 square km area into a death zone, killing nearly 200 people as they slept or scrambled to escape a cloud of toxic fumes, officials and state media said on Friday.
Bodies of farmers and livestock were scattered over a wide area after the well, being drilled in mountains 340 km northeast of Chongqing city, burst on Tuesday.
“The poisonous gas hovering in the air made an area of 25 sq km a death zone as many villagers were intoxicated by the fumes in their sleep,” the China Daily newspaper said.
An operation to seal the gas well planned for Friday had been postponed for 24 hours to 0200 GMT on Saturday for safety reasons, state media said.
About 41,000 people, most of them farmers, were evacuated from villages within a radius of five km from the remote accident site, where the temperature at night drops to freezing. Eighty-two separate rescue teams scoured surrounding villages for survivors in a search that was due to conclude early on Saturday. Dozens of fire trucks and ambulances stood by. —Agencies