Torrential rain in Sichuan causes chemical fire

30 May 2008 05:58  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS news) -- A two-tonne stockpile of disinfectant chlorine stored under a tent ignited after coming into contact with rainwater, injuring over 60 people in quake-hit Sichuan province, southwest China, said Han, Department Head of the Beichuan County Disaster Relief Centre on Friday.


The chemical fire took place in the town of Leigu in the county of Beichuan, on Thursday.


“The chlorine was to be used for disinfecting the disaster struck areas to ease fears of an epidemic outbreak. But the torrential rains and winds blew the tentage away and exposed the chlorine”, he added.


Several soldiers who inhaled the fumes required immediate medical attention as they experienced breathing difficulties.


Meanwhile, the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources reported that the water levels of the “quake lake”, Tangjiashan, formed by landslides from the Sichuan earthquake on 12 May was a mere 25 metres away from the lowest part of the barrier and was at risk of breaching its bank.


Of the 34 “quake lakes” formed by the Sichuan quake, 28 were still at risk of rupturing, with Tangjiashan, the largest “quake lake”, posing the most concerns, said the Ministry of Water Resource on Friday.


An estimated 5,000 tonnes of chemicals, sulphuric and hydrochloric acid, located in Mianyang city, further away from the Tangjiashan lake have been moved to a safer location on concerns that the lake will breach its banks, said Han.


The chemicals, which were stranded in different work sites, could pose additional threats amid fears of flooding and pollution.


“Works on discharging water from the Tangjiashan lake is well on its way and no significant disruptions has been experienced” said Han.


Over 150,000 people near the lake have been evacuated for safety reasons.


Measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale, the 12 May quake which struck southwest China, with its epicentre in Sichuan province, has claimed 68,500 lives to date.


Dolly Wu contributed to this story


To discuss the effect of the Chinese earthquake visit: The Chinese earthquake on ICIS connect 

By: Bohan Loh
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