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Chinese worker saved after 80 hours in underwater pipe

China chemical factory blast kills four
Beijing (AFP) Nov 21, 2010 - An explosion at a chemical factory in northern China has killed four and injured 37, state media reported Sunday, citing local authorities. The blast occurred Saturday night in the city of Jinzhong, in northern Shanxi province, at the Yushe Chemical Co, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a provincial government statement. The cause of the explosion was still under investigation, the report said, adding firefighters worked through the night to put out the resulting fire. The factory produced an array of chemicals ranging from common food additives to compounds used in making plastics and paper, according to the company website. Two of the injured were in serious condition, the report said. In China an average of 187 people were killed in work-related accidents on each day in the first half of this year, the government has said.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 21, 2010
Chinese rescuers on Sunday freed a man working on an offshore platform after a three-day ordeal trapped in a twisted steel pipe beneath the sea, state media reported.

The 43-year-old, identified only by his surname Fan, was saved after being trapped for 80 hours in a one-metre- (3.3 foot-) diameter steel pipe that sank 18 metres below the sea on Thursday.

Fan was working at the bottom of the pipe off the coast of eastern Zhejiang province when tidal pressure suddenly crushed it "like a beverage can", trapping him inside, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The upper part of the pipe was squeezed to three centimetres (one inch) at its narrowest part, the report said. While trapped, Fan received food and water through a tube and counselling from a psychiatrist.

Footage on China Central Television showed workers cutting Fan out with a blowtorch after raising the section of pipe out of the sea.

He was shown being lifted onto a stretcher and being rushed to hospital, but reports said he suffered no serious injuries.

China is considered one of the world's most dangerous places to work with an average of 187 people killed in work-related accidents each day in the first half of this year, according to government figures.

earlier related report
Tens of thousands mourn at scene of Shanghai fire
Shanghai (AFP) Nov 21, 2010 - Tens of thousands of people laid flowers Sunday at the blackened shell of a Shanghai high-rise apartment where a fire left 58 dead, as the city marked the peak of the traditional mourning period.

Lines of solemn mourners stretched for several blocks under the watch of hundreds of police, who allowed them to slowly file past the front of the building and place chrysanthemums, a traditional Chinese symbol of mourning.

"I didn't expect so many people would come. I only wanted to have a look but didn't expect so many people would show up here with flowers," said Xu Xinfang, 27, as she carried a bouquet toward the foot of the building.

The inferno in the 28-storey block caused some panicked residents to attempt desperate jumps to safety or seek refuge on construction scaffolding surrounding the structure.

Shanghai residents have been going to the scene for days but Sunday's crowds were the largest yet. According to Chinese tradition the seventh day after a death, counting inclusively, marks the height of the mourning period.

Tens of thousands of people joined the procession as volunteers handed out free flowers stem by stem.

Shanghai's Communist Party Chief Yu Zhengsheng, Mayor Han Zheng and other senior officials joined the mourning crowd, bowing three times before laying down flowers, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

But Chinese authorities' unease towards mass gatherings was also on show as more than 500 uniformed and plainclothes police directed the crowds and dispersed agitated residents who were talking about the fire.

"There are more people here than yesterday. It shows the great sadness of the Chinese people," said Harry Zhu, a 40-year-old office worker, who returned on Sunday with his wife, daughter and mother after visiting the day before.

Families have set up small altars with portraits of the deceased, where they burned candles and incense, and laid out offerings of food.

Friends and relatives were expected to hold a vigil through the night for the victims, local media reported.

Traditional belief holds the dead revisit their families before leaving for good on the seventh day. Family members prepare a feast for the dead and burn a paper ladder to help them climb to heaven.

Posters around the scene featured a black ribbon and the messages "Don't cry Shanghai" and "Mourn the victims in Shanghai's Jiaozhou Road Fire" in English and Chinese.

A preliminary investigation has blamed Monday's blaze on on careless work by unlicensed welders who ignited nylon netting swathing the building, which was being renovated.

Police are holding 12 people in connection with the fire, the government has said.

China has ordered a nationwide overhaul of fire-control measures after the disaster, the latest incident to highlight chronic poor fire safety in the country.




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Italian quake victims denounce reconstruction pace
L'Aquila, Italy (AFP) Nov 20, 2010
Thousands of residents of an Italian city devastated by an earthquake last year joined a mass protest Saturday to vent their fury against the government over the slow pace of reconstruction. Braving wind and rain, the protestors marched from the outskirts of L'Aquila to the historic centre which bore the brunt of the devastation when the quake struck in April last year and is still off limit ... read more

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