At least 20 dead after tanker explodes in collision
SCMP says, “At least 20 people were killed and 27 injured when a huge fire in Guangzhou, triggered by collision between a tanker and a truck, engulfed a timber mill and its staff dormitory yesterday morning.
“China News Service said the tanker, carrying 40 tonnes of mineral solvent, exploded after it collided with the truck on a bridge on the Nangang section of the Guangzhou-Yanjiang Expressway at 4.30am.
“The fire then spread to cover an area of more than 2,000 square metres, including a timber factory and its dormitory under the bridge, a container yard and nearby buildings, as well as setting passing vehicles alight.”
SCMP says, “Six Uygurs, some disguised as disabled passengers, tried to hijack a plane yesterday shortly after it took off from Hotan in Xinjiang on a flight to the autonomous region’s capital”.
Xinjiang government spokeswoman Hou Hanmin told the South China Morning Post that three of the suspects had sat at the front of the airplane and three were in the back.
Some of the six Uygur suspects were disguised as cripples and were carrying metal sticks that could be detached into pieces.
“One of the ‘disabled’ suspects who was sitting in the front seats suddenly disassembled his metal stick and tried to break into the cockpit, while his accomplices tried to help him,” Hou said. “But they were all thwarted by crew members and passengers on broad.”
SCMP’s Teddy Ng reports from Beijing, Beijing’s retiring party boss Liu Qi yesterday urged for “party unity’ at Beijing’s long-delayed congress.
The congress must elect delegates for the 18th Party Congress, scheduled for autumn. The deadline for each constituency to elect its delegates to the National Congress is today.
SCMP says, “The Beijing party congress is usually held in May, but the date for this year’s meeting was only announced last week, and the delay has fuelled rumors of a power struggle within the party, especially after former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai was removed for violating party discipline. No official explanation on the delay was offered.” However, Liu Qi’s call for unity must be an indication of the lack of unity perhaps due to Bo saga.
SCMP says, Fang Hong had his sentence of one-year imprisonment in labor camp for “inciting social disturbance” overturned by a Chongqing court. Fang, 51, served a year of re-education through labor after posting a derogatory joke on a microblog service mocking Bo Xilai.
The court said yesterday that despite Fang’s rude language, the microblog messages did not constitute serious threat to social order, Xinhua reported. It ruled that the panel that had sentenced Fang had acted illegally.
Fang’s microblog had less than 30 followers and his joke was only forwarded three times before he was arrested.
Fang is believed to be the first person to have overturned a sentence handed down during Bo’s time in charge of Chongqing. His lawyer Si Weijiang said: “I believe the success of Fang’s case has sent a positive message to the public, that the city is starting to correct the wrongdoings and restore law and order.”
Bloomberg reports from Beijing that “China blocked access to Bloomberg’s website on the mainland after the business and financial news agency published a report Friday detailing the multimillion-dollar assets of relatives of Xi Jinping who set to become the country’s next president.
“The report says that the extended family of Vice President Xi Jinping holds interests that include investments in companies with total assets of $376 million, an 18 per cent indirect stake in a rare-earths company with $1.73 billion in assets and a $20 million holding in a tech company. The report cites public documents Bloomberg reporters compiled.
“Bloomberg noted that no assets were traced to Xi, his wife, or their daughter and said in the report that there was no indication of any wrongdoing by Xi or his extended family.
“Still, the move to block access to Bloomberg’s main website, on which the Xi story was the lead news item, underscores the government’s sensitivity to such exposure of wealth belonging to people linked to top leaders amid a burgeoning gap between rich and poor and rampant official corruption.”
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SCMP says, about 40 workers were buried in a mudslide early yesterday morning near the construction site of the Baihetan Dam for one of the world’s largest hydroelectric power plants which is being built in the ecologically vulnerable Jinsha River area of Sichuan province. As of last night, none of the workers had been rescued.
According to SCMP, “The 57 billion yuan (HK$70 billion) hydropower station on the Jinsha is expected to generate more than 50 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, or nearly two-thirds that of the Three Gorges Dam, according to local government figures.
“No completion date had been publicly given. Construction began in 2008.”
“Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, said the Jinsha River region had unstable geophysical properties and was prone to natural disasters such as landslides. He added that the continued construction of massive power stations, including the blockage of large volumes of water and the building of roads, would only intensify risks.”
“But one hydropower expert said that dams were, in fact, the best way to stop mudslides. Zhang Boting, deputy secretary general of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, said yesterday that when the dam was completed, it would convert energy from the Jinsha into electricity, thereby reducing water pressure that causes erosion along the river banks and results in natural disasters, such as the mudslides.”
SCMP quotes Associated Press report from Beijing, “A Chinese space capsule with three astronauts aboard returned to Earth on Friday from a 13-day mission to an orbiting module that is a prototype for a future permanent station.
“The crew of the Shenzhou 9 parachuted to a landing on the grasslands of the country’s sprawling Inner Mongolia region at about 10am. China declared the mission to the Tiangong 1 module a major stride ahead for the country’s ambitious space programme.”