BEIJING — The death toll from two huge blasts caused by leaked oil from a ruptured pipeline in an eastern Chinese port city has risen to 44 with 166 injured in one the country's worst industrial accidents of the year, authorities said Saturday.
The blasts in Qingdao on Friday ripped slabs of pavement and online photos showed bodies, overturned vehicles and shattered windows in nearby buildings. Black smoke rose above gigantic fuel silos and darkened much of the sky.
The pipeline owned by China's largest oil refiner, Sinopec, ruptured and leaked for about 15 minutes onto a street and into the sea before it was shut off. Hours later, as workers cleaned up the spill, the oil caught fire and exploded in two locations, the city government said.
The Qingdao Environmental Protection Bureau said barriers had been set up to contain the oil as it spread into the sea, but that a mixture of gas and oil from a storm sewer exploded and caught fire over the sea.
More than 32,000 square feet of sea surface was contaminated, the city government said.
Authorities said the oil had seeped into underground utility pipes, which could have been a factor in the blasts.