At least 91 people are missing after a massive mound of construction waste and mud collapsed at the Hengtaiuyu inustrial park in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, triggering the explosion of a PetroChina-operated natural gas pipeline. According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, 91 people are still missing as of Monday morning. About 33 buildings have been destroyed by the massive mudslide.
The landslide covers an area spanning the size of 60 football fields (380,000 square meters), said Liu Qingsheng, the vice mayor of Shenzhen, was reported as saying Monday. “It is the first time in China that we have seen a landslide on this scale,” Liu Guonan of the China Academy of Railway Sciences, added.
The Culprit? Illegal Soil Dumping
Initial reports suggest that the huge landslide was caused by illegal soil dumping.
According to the official newspaper of the Ministry of Land and Resources, the landslide was caused by the illegal storage of waste soil from construction sites.
Terrifying footage of building collapsing during the landslide in Shenzhen uploaded by netizens #shenzhenlandslide
https://t.co/3Brj5Hdzah— CCTVNEWS (@cctvnews) December 20, 2015
Allegedly, the soil was illegally stored in heaps 330 feet high at an old quarry located and turned into mud Sunday morning during heavy rain, the state-run Global Times reported.
PetroChina: Temporary Line Built Over Next 2 Weeks
PetroChina said the ruptured pipeline has been emptied and that a temporary line will be built. The new line will be laid over the next 7-10 days to replace the 400-metre-long section of the pipe that exploded, according to PetroChina.
The ruptured pipeline is part of the PetroChina-operated west-to-east pipeline project that supplies Hong Kong with about 400 million cubic meters a year and Shenzhen with about 770 million cubic meters a year of natural gas per year, consultancy SIA Energy told Reuters. The pipeline supplies around 3 billion cubic meters a year to the Guangdong province, according to the Guangdong Oil & Gas Association and SIA.
Due to the fact that Shenzhen and Hong Kong have access to other natural gas supplies through LNG or gas piped in from offshore fields, analysts said the effect should be minimal for the two cities.
Government Officials: Speed Up Rescue Efforts
Local authorities were reported as saying that 900 people were evacuated before the mass of earth started barreling down on top of the industrial park. Shenzhen is located on China’s border with Hong Kong, and is a major industrial hub in the country.
China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have ordered authorities to quicken the pace of rescue efforts. A group of experts from Beijing has also been deployed by the Chinese cabinet to coordinate these operations.