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Gas explosion kills two, injures seven in northwest China
BEIJING (AFP) Aug 10, 2005
A gas explosion in northwest China's Xinjiang region flattened an entire factory building, killing at least two people and injuring seven, state media said Wednesday.

The explosion happened at 8:15 pm Tuesday (0015 GMT) when eleven liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanks and oxygen cylinders exploded at the factory in Aksu city, the Xinhua news agency said.

The factory building, which faced a petroleum company, was completely destroyed, Xinhua said.

The exact number of workers at the site has yet to be confirmed as the owner of the factory fled after the accident and the death toll could rise, said Xinhua.

Rescuers are still searching for workers possibly trapped and the cause of the accident is under further investigation, Xinhua said.

The factory produces foam for fruit packages.

Initial investigations found there were more than 30 LNG tanks and oxygen cylinders stored inside the factory building when the explosion occurred, Xinhua said.

The Xinjiang region is not only a key source of natural gas for the rest of China but an ethnically tense area populated mainly by Muslims.

Muslim separatists from the Uighur ethnic group have tried, sometimes through violent means, to create an independent state, while others oppose China's repression of local Muslims.

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