Currently the City of Harbin has no tap water, and that has led people to start paying attention to the truth of what happened at the Benzene Production Plant of Jilin PetroChina Company, Ltd (PetroChina). An Epoch Times reporter forwarded local pictures and a report.
Police Car Hit and Killed Two People in Sequence
At about 1:40pm on November 13, 2005, a big explosion broke out at the Jilin PetroChina Benzene Production Plant. At around 3pm, as people were fleeing the danger zone, police cars that were franticly clearing the way for Jilin leaders hit three people at the front gate of the 104 Plant of the chemical plant. Two died at the scene, and the status of the third victim is unknown. The police simply pushed the two bodies off the road and drove away, leaving the victims' bodies by the roadside for some time.
The next morning, the blood from the accident was still visible in front of the door of the plant. Someone had placed three cigarettes there (used as incense in memory of the deceased). One of the victims was Mr. Wang, the owner of the Guchuan Grain Shop in the Guangxi Market in Jiangbeitiedong (Tiedong) District of Jilin City. He was about 50 years old, and the dog he was walking with was hit and killed as well. The victim's grain shop has remained closed since the accident.
Tens of Thousands of People Escape from the Tiedong District
This was not an evacuation. The majority of the Tiedong residents decided to escape, not because they received notice from relevant government officials, but because they discovered the real situation of the explosion. The Tiedong area is located leeward of the plant, and therefore a large amount of yellow and dark smoke filled the sky there, making it very difficult for people to breathe. At around 4pm, almost anyone who was able to, walked toward the city's center. Due to strict blockades by police, no cars, taxies, or buses were allowed on the street. Longtan Bridge and Chengde Street were flooded with escaping people as were other avenues out of town. More than 5,000 people escaped from Jilin Petrochemical College alone. In Addition, 40,000-50,000 residents in Tiedong escaped, leaving mainly the old and weak behind.
At that time, electricity, water, heat, and all telecommunications except radio broadcasting in Tiedong were shut off. All schools and business were closed. Around 5pm, almost nobody was on the street. By 7pm, few homes had turned on lights. The air pollution in Tiedong was nothing like what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) TV suggested, that only non-toxic carbon dioxide was generated out of burning Benzene.
Photographs of the explosion reveal that the sky above the northern part of the river was covered with thick dark and yellow smoke. By noon of the next day when water supply resumed, the water, now turbid and carrying an odd smell, had been polluted. TV footage shows that massive amounts of foam and water (used to cool down the temperature) were mixed and used to put out the fire. This water combined with the high density of poisonous gas from benzene in the air, was dispersed into Songhua River through the sewer drains. The water intake system, at the lower reaches of the Songhua River has subsequently taken in the contaminated water source. Although the pollution is being continuously diluted in the river, it has severely polluted a large amount of water resources (at the time, an irritating odor could be smelled at the discharge opening at the end of the Qingyuan Bridge).
Inaccurate Official News Reports
The CCP official reports of the incident in the evening and the next day claimed that only glass within 0.12 miles of the explosion was shattered by the shock of the blast. However, all the glass on the balconies of two buildings at the end of the Qingyuan Bridge, about 0.62 miles away, were also all broken, and the window frames were severely distorted. The steel bars on the iron gate of the Jilin Chemical Machinery Plant nearby were broken; the steel-structured plant was severely distorted; a one-fist thick high-voltage electric wire and steel cable were blown into pieces; a large piece of boiler outer shell (0.39 inches thick, and weighing about 441 pounds) fell at the end of Qingyuan Bridge over 1.2 miles away; another piece of boiler outer shell fell on a shed on Suzhou street of Tuchengzi over a mile away; a residential vegetable cellar near the Hanyang Bridge about one mile away was hit by a large iron slab; a telephone pole in the Jilin Huodian district 1.2 miles away was struck down by the shockwave; it was possible that a woman riding on a motor scooter nearby Qingyuan Bridge was struck and killed by a piece of iron sheeting from the blast; the hydrogen pipeline of the 104 Plant of Jilin PetroChina, about a mile away, was ruptured by a boiler outer shell, the leaked hydrogen lit, and a prompt firefighting response helped to avoid a major disaster.
The Number of Casualties Remains a Mystery
It is difficult to determine the number of injuries that resulted from flying debris or falling glass. The TV news reported over 70 injuries at the time, but later changed this to 21. It is unknown how they came up with this number. On the day of the explosion, both Jilin City news and the Jilin Provincial news had only one-sentence reports about it, and viewer phone calls overwhelmed their phone lines.
A Changyi district traffic police officer from the Jilin City Public Security Bureau, who participated in blocking the site, revealed that approximately ten hearses from the city funeral home went to the explosion site. This information was later verified from different sources. Many Tuchengzi residents said that not long after the explosion, many ambulances rushed to the Huagong Hospital, and they were all transferring firefighters (the number of casualties was unknown). According to later TV reports, “The firefighters at the scene were putting out the fire with foam and high-pressure water hoses, and some firefighters had been working for over ten hours”.
Review of the TV reports
On the first day [of the explosion], there were only one-sentence news bites, no details. People hoped to see some footage on the Jiangcheng Live Broadcast program, and their calls overwhelmed the phone lines. However, almost all media were silent on this subject. The news reports on the second day were all of the same tone, using pre-arranged rather than random interviews. They did not mention any of the well-known incidents such as the police car fatalities, the death of another person by falling telephone poles, or of a woman having been hit while riding a motor scooter. Reporters were “well-treated” and positioned by Jilin PetroChina, and were “well-organized” by and cooperated with officials from the propaganda department of Jilin Provincial CCP Committee, and the propaganda department of Jilin City CCP Committee. In this way, they “successfully” completed their interviews.