1. #1
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    Unhappy China Gas Field Incident kills at least 191

    BEIJING (AP) - Crews worked desperately Friday to plug a burst
    natural gas well in southwest China and stop a leak of toxic fumes
    that has left nearby villages full of bodies. At least 191 people
    were killed, nearly 300 injured, and more than 41,000 forced to
    flee their homes, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
    Disaster officials feared the death toll could rise as 20
    special teams combed the area near the gas field looking for
    survivors and more victims, Xinhua reported.
    Rescue workers were prevented from entering the area immediately
    after the well erupted Tuesday night in a gas field in the town of
    Gaoqiao because they lacked the proper equipment and the fumes from
    the deadly mix of natural gas and hydrogen sulfide were too strong,
    Xinhua reported. By Wednesday morning, only nine people had been
    confirmed dead, the agency said.
    The mountainous terrain and muddy roads also made it difficult
    for villagers to flee and hindered rescue work and communications,
    Xinhua said.
    When disaster teams finally entered the area on Thursday, they
    made one grisly discovery after another, finding villages full of
    bodies, the agency said. The death toll steadily mounted through
    the day, and 191 people were confirmed dead as of Friday morning,
    Xinhua said.
    The blowout released a toxic cloud that forced the evacuation of
    more than 41,000 people in a 3-mile radius from the gas field,
    Xinhua reported.
    President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders ordered local
    authorities to "go all out to rescue victims, prevent poisonous
    gas from spreading further and reduce casualties," Xinhua said.
    The cause of the disaster at the Chuandongbei gas field wasn't
    clear. Xinhua said it involved a drilling mishap that broke open a
    gas well, but didn't give details.
    Technicians were trying to contain the well on Friday. "We will
    see whether we can curb the natural gas from further escaping,"
    Qian Zhijia, deputy head of the gas field, told Xinhua.
    Xinhua had reported earlier that technicians would try to plug
    the well using cement and earth-moving equipment. They ignited the
    gas spewing from the wellhead on Wednesday to burn it off and stop
    it from spreading, Xinhua said. Photos released by the agency
    showed the flames shooting up into the night sky.
    The death toll was high even by the appalling standards of
    China's accident-plagued industry, where coal mine explosions and
    other disasters kill dozens at a time, totaling thousands every
    year.
    More than 290 people were hospitalized - most of them children,
    Xinhua said. Victims were being treated for gas poisoning and
    chemical burns, the Web site of the state newspaper China Daily
    reported. Photos from one makeshift showed women and children with
    blistered faces, some breathing from oxygen tanks parked beside
    their beds.
    "There are farmers and miners, old and young, men and women,"
    an unidentified hospital employee was quoted as saying by the China
    Daily. "Some died after they arrived here."
    The gas field is about 210 miles northeast of Chongqing, a city
    of millions.
    The disaster came amid sweeping government efforts to tighten
    industrial safety in China and reduce the carnage in a country with
    one of the world's highest rates of workplace deaths.
    Despite the crackdown, the number of deaths in China's mines and
    factories jumped nearly 9 percent in the first nine months of this
    year to 11,449, according to the government.
    Fatal accidents often are blamed on lack of required fire
    equipment and indifference to safety rules by managers.
    State television reported the gas field disaster Thursday as the
    second item on its national evening newscast but gave no death
    toll.
    The gas field is run by the Sichuan Petroleum Administration,
    part of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., Xinhua said.

    APTV 12-25-03 2159EST
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  2. #2
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    Post Update

    CHONGQING, China (AP) - Clouds of poison gas from a burst well
    left a "death zone" of villages strewn with bodies in China's
    southwest, with at least 191 people killed and 41,000 forced to
    flee, news reports said Friday.
    Gas spewed from the well in the Chongqing region as technicians
    prepared an emergency effort to seal it with cement. They were
    supposed to make the attempt Friday but put it off until Saturday
    to let rescue officials focus on rushing food and water to the
    evacuees.
    Some 9,185 people were treated for gas poisoning and other
    injuries, and 431 were still hospitalized - 17 in critical
    condition, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Newspaper photos
    showed children with red faces and their eyes inflamed from
    chemical burns.
    The gas well burst Tuesday in the remote mountain town of
    Gaoqiao, releasing a cloud of natural gas and hydrogen sulfide,
    according to state media. Xinhua said the disaster occurred when a
    drilling accident broke open a gas well.
    "The poisonous gas hovering in the air made an area of 25
    square kilometers (10 square miles) a death zone, as many villagers
    were intoxicated by the fumes in their sleep," the China Daily
    newspaper said.
    Hardest-hit was the village of Xiaoyang, adjacent to the gas
    field.
    A reporter for the Shanghai Morning Post newspaper who visited
    Thursday wrote of seeing at least six bodies lying beside homes and
    in fields. The bodies of a 12-year-old boy and his mother were
    found on a road, the newspaper said. Dead chickens, pigs, owls and
    dogs were strewn around the village, many with white foam in their
    nostrils.
    A merchant in Xiaoyang was credited with saving 400 people,
    using his truck to make 20 trips carrying them away from the gas,
    the newspaper Chongqing Economic Times reported.
    One woman who lived 1,000 feet from the well described being
    choked by foul-smelling gas and hearing neighbors shouting that the
    well had exploded, the newspaper said. She ran away with her
    5-year-old daughter, it said, "but by the time they reached
    safety, the girl had stopped breathing."
    The death toll was high even by the standards of
    accident-plagued Chinese industry, where thousands of people are
    killed every year in coal mine explosions and other disasters. Two
    of those killed were gas field employees, Xinhua said.
    The gas field belongs to the state-owned China National
    Petroleum Corp., the China Daily reported. It said a a CNPC
    subsidiary, PetroChina, began building a $400 million pipeline in
    August to pump natural gas from Chongqing to central China.
    Gas from the well kept rescue workers from entering the area
    until Thursday, when they found scores of bodies, Xinhua said.
    Teams combed the area Friday for bodies and possible survivors.
    A single paved road links Gaoqiao to the county seat 40 miles to
    the northeast.
    "Poor transport and communications facilities hampered the
    timely evacuation of all people from nearby areas," Xinhua quoted
    Vice Mayor Wu Jianong of Chongqing as saying.
    Technicians ignited gas spewing from the well on Wednesday to
    burn it off and stop it from spreading, Xinhua said. Photos
    released by the agency showed the flames shooting up into the night
    sky.
    Supplies of bedding, drinking water and instant noodles began
    arriving Friday morning, said an official of the Chongqing Civilian
    Affairs Rescue Department who wouldn't give his name.
    A truck from a Chongqing pharmaceutical company on the road
    toward the disaster area was loaded with supplies and bore a white
    banner saying in red Chinese characters, "When one place has
    difficulty, help comes from all directions."
    Newspaper photos showed villagers being taken to nearby towns in
    pickup trucks and tractor-pulled wagons. Survivors were shown in
    makeshift hospitals lying under green army quilts on beds squeezed
    head-to-foot, some breathing from oxygen tanks.
    Kaixian county, where Gaoqiao is located, has some 15 natural
    gas wells, the Shanghai Morning Post reported. The county has a
    population of 1.4 million people.
    Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Johannes
    Rau and Russian President Vladimir Putin sent messages of
    condolence to Beijing.
    China is in the midst of a government campaign to reduce its
    high rate of workplace deaths. But despite the crackdown, the
    number of reported fatalities in industrial accidents jumped by 9
    percent in the first nine months of this year.

    APTV 12-26-03 0654EST
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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