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November 8, 2010

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Factory blast stops Metro services

A STEAM autoclave machine in a Shanghai factory exploded early yesterday morning, injuring five workers and damaging a nearby section of Metro Line 9, which had to close part of its service for several hours - trains traveled at lower speeds after the line reopened.

Five workers in the factory where the explosion occurred were injured - two seriously. One suffered severe burns while the other was injured in his head, chest and arms.

The other three injured workers have left hospital.

A work safety official said the investigation is still ongoing.

With repair work continuing, the city Metro operator, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, said it is trying to reduce the effect on today's operations during peak hours.

As a precaution, the operator suggests that commuters in Songjiang District, the most affected area, take other modes of transport to work?today.

The incident happened at about 1:50am yesterday at the Shanghai Jianhua Concrete Pile Company.

The head of an autoclave, which was at the pressing stage of the sterilizing process the machines are used for, broke and flew out of the factory workshop at high speed.

The equipment crashed into a platform support on Line 9's elevated section, around 100 meters north of the factory.

The piece, weighing about two tons, caused severe damage to the support. Parts of the concrete on the structure were damaged by the impact and it's iron framework was left exposed.

Power equipment for the Metro line was also damaged, said the operator.

"It's lucky that no train was in service at that time," said Wang Bin, an official with the line.

The operator decided to stop service on the line at 5:30am. Along the affected stretch, six stations were closed and traffic authorities organized 45 buses to transport passengers along the affected route.

After emergency repair work, the operator reopened the section at 8am, however, trains running along the affected stretch of line were limited to a speed of just 10 kilometers per hour, due to safety concerns.

As the repair work can not be completed "in short time," said the operator, a new operational plan will be put into action from today.

However, commuters are again advised to look for alternative ways to get to and from work, especially during the morning and evening rush hours.

There will be two operational routes: one route, the longest, will run between Songjiang Xinchen station to Yanggao Road M. station, while the other will run from Zhongchun Road station to Yanggao Road M. station.

The times between trains on the longer route will be on average 12 minutes and that of the shorter one will be around six minutes.

Meanwhile shuttle bus services will be operating at the closed stations during peak hours to take passengers between the two open routes.

Line 9 carries 500,000 passengers a day, on average. It takes roughly 45 minutes from Songjiang Xinchen station, the terminus, to the centre of the city.

The line, with 23 stations, is a major transport route in southwest Shanghai as well as in the Pudong New Area.


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