China gas pipeline explodes after landslide triggered by heavy rain, killing at least 8

People watch the rising water level of the Li River during a flood in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, July 1, 2017.
People watch the rising water level of the Li River during a flood in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, China, July 1, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP, REUTERS) - A natural gas pipeline exploded in southwest China on Sunday (July 2), killing at least eight people and injuring another 35, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The pipeline, operated by the state-owned oil giant China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) in the town of Shazi in Guizhou province, sprang a leak after it was crushed by a landslide triggered by heavy rains, Xinhua reported. It later blew up.

Emergency workers put out the blaze and evacuated residents, Xinhua said, citing rescuers.

Last year (2016), a pipeline explosion at a power station in central China killed at least 21 people.

In 2015, giant blasts killed at least 165 people in the northern port city of Tianjin, causing over US$1 billion in damage and sparking widespread anger over a perceived lack of transparency by officials about the accident's causes and environmental impact.

A government inquiry into the Tianjin accident released in February last year recommended 123 people be punished.

Over the past few days, floods in southern China have also killed at least 15 people and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands more, state media said.  In Guangxi region, seven died and three were missing following torrential rains, with more than 23,000 people being evacuated to safer areas, the Xinhua news agency said late on Sunday. 

In neighbouring Hunan province, more than 300,000 people have been evacuated and eight people have died, the agency said.  More rain is forecast in coming days, according to the China Meteorological Administration.  Floods kill dozens of people every year in China during the summer rainy season.