Pipeline explosion in China kills 35, injures 166

Pipeline explodes in China, kills 35

Pipeline explodes in China, kills 35 | Screenshot from Reuters video

A pipeline blast in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao has killed 35 people, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reports. Another 166 people have been reported injured.

The explosion occurred at around 10:30am as workers were trying to fix the leaking pipeline, owned by oil giant Sinopec. The line ruptured at around 3am and leaked for about 15 minutes.

"I have only seen this in disaster films," a rescue worker told the news agency.

Photos posted online show roads ripped apart by the blast, overturned cars and a toppled police building. A nearby residential apartment building was also damaged.

President Xi Jinping has "asked for maximum effort in the search for survivors of the blast," Xinhua writes. "He also asked local authorities to spare no effort to rescue the injured, find the cause of the accident and strengthen safety."

The Qingdao municipal government has ordered "scrutiny" of the city's pipeline network.

Xinhua also reports that about 1,000 square meters of road surface are covered in oil, while some has reached Jiaozhou Bay, polluting about 3,000 square meters of sea water. Barricades have now been set up to prevent further leakage into the sea.

According to the South China Morning Post, Sinopec issued a statement offering its condolences and saying it would "investigate the incident with responsibility and give timely reports."

Sinopec, China's largest oil refiner, has halted crude and oil product buying through its trading arm Unipec, Reuters reports.