China's chlorine gas leak under control

BEIJING: Firemen worked overnight cleaning up a toxic chlorine gas leak and appeared to have the situation under control after the disaster forced the evacuation of 150,000 people in southwest China, officials said yesterday.  

Powerful explosions on Friday evening at the Tianyuan Chemical Industry Plant in downtown Chongqing municipality released further clouds of toxic chlorine gas into the air. 

Nine people were listed as dead or missing and 150,000 people evacuated in the densely populated area by Friday evening, according to the Xinhua news agency. 

The incident comes just four months after 243 people were killed by poisoned gas near Chongqing in China's worst ever industrial accident. 

The chlorine density in the air was now at a safe level, local officials said yesterday.  

Of the nine people considered dead or missing, eight are company managers and the other is a worker, Xinhua said. 

The director and two managers of the chlorine and hydrogen branch of the plant, the director and a retired cadre of the safety and environment protection bureau of the plant were also listed as victims. 

The whereabouts of a general manager of a subsidiary of the plant is also unknown. 

The explosions happened after company officials tried to contain leaks in several chlorine tanks discovered on Thursday evening by trying to quickly pump the tanks empty. 

That caused the temperature in the tanks to rise, leading to the blasts; Xinhua had quoted the director of the rescue team saying. – AFP 

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