China oil pipeline explosion toll rises to 44

China oil pipeline explosion toll rises to 44

BEIJING - The death toll from an oil pipeline explosion in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao rose to 44 Saturday, according to an updated report published by local authorities.

The blast ripped roads apart, turning cars over and sending thick black smoke billowing over the city, pictures showed.

The last toll, published Friday evening, was 35 dead and 166 injured.

The pipeline, run by state-owned oil giant Sinopec, sprang a leak early Friday and exploded several hours later as workers sought to repair it, the Qingdao municipal government said in its verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Sinopec chairman Fu Chengyu told state television on Saturday: "(We) are deeply grieved, we express our deep condolences for the dead, our support to their families (...) and our apologies to the whole country.

"(We'll) find out the accident's causes as soon as possible and give a reasonable explanation to everyone."

China has a very poor record on industrial safety as lax law enforcement and corruption enables business owners to cut corners or offer bribes to evade standards.

Around 28,000 people were killed or went missing in workplace accidents in the first half of this year, state media have reported.

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