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Building collapse kills 11 China rail workers: state media

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 11, 2009
Eleven people were killed and 20 were injured in eastern China on Wednesday after a blast led to the collapse of a former factory that was housing railway workers, state media reported

Preliminary investigations revealed the collapse was triggered when leftover aluminium powder in the building in Danyang city, Jiangsu province ignited and exploded just after midnight Wednesday, Xinhua news agency said.

Initial reports said nine had died and four were missing. It was not immediately clear if the two additional fatalities were people who had earlier been reported missing.

Forty-four people, all workers with China's railway, were living in the building at the time of the blast, it said.

The factory formerly produced the aluminium powder, it said.

Investigators were looking into how the chemical ignited, it added.

The rail workers were building a new 5.76 billion dollar railway between the cities of Shanghai and Jiangsu that is expected to carry 30 million passengers a year at speeds up to 250 kilometres (150 miles) an hour when completed in 2010, the report said.

China has in recent years embarked on plans to expand its rail network, already the world's most extensive.

It recently approved a two-trillion-yuan (290-billion-dollar) investment plan for its railway infrastructure over the next two years in a bid to spur growth in the face of the global economic crisis.

Deadly workplace accidents are common in China, where awareness and enforcement of basic safety practices is lax.

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China still mum on number of students killed in quake
Beijing (AFP) March 8, 2009
China declined on Sunday to reveal how many schoolchildren were killed in last year's devastating earthquake, saying the politically sensitive figure still was not calculated nearly 10 months later.

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