Chinese Firefighter Drowns Near Leak

A Dalian firefighter drowned yesterday morning, becoming the first fatality since a massive oil pipeline explosion hit the city's Xingang Port on Friday. The fireman and a colleague were fixing an underwater pump attached to an advanced water-pumping vessel in water covered with thick oil that leaked from oil pipelines in the aftermath of the explosion. Witnesses said that the firefighter had probably drowned, just 1,000 metres from the site of the explosion, because he underestimated how sticky the water was after the oil spill, which made it impossible to swim. Another firefighter was rescued and is now under observation at a Dalian hospital. There has been no official count of injuries in the aftermath of the explosion, but several people, mostly firefighters, were injured during the disaster. Up to 3,000 firefighters from Liaoning province battled an inferno for more than 15 hours from Friday night before extinguishing the fire. Up to 20 firefighting trucks were still on standby outside the port yesterday though no obvious fire or smoke could be spotted. The high-powered water-pumping vessel, imported from France, had been vital to efforts to contain the fire because it could send sea water up to 5 kilometres ashore when there was not enough fresh water to supply firefighting trucks.