Attack ruled out in oil tank fire in Xinjiang

URUMQI (Reuters) - An oil tank blew up at a chemical plant in Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s restive Xinjiang region, on Sunday, but local police and refinery officials ruled out a deliberate attack.

“It is only a fire which was put out immediately,” a refinery official told Reuters at the plant, about 35 km (21 miles) northeast of Urumqi.

Refinery officials discovered the 10,000 cubic meter storage tank burning at about 10 a.m. on Sunday, and it was extinguished by 10:30 a.m.

“According to our initial investigation, there were no deaths or injuries and deliberate causation can be excluded.”

The refinery, belonging to Urumqi Chemical Co, a unit of China National Petroleum Co, parent of PetroChina, is operating normally.

“It was a natural explosion,” said an officer at the Urumqi police station, declining to give his name.

The Xinhua news agency released the news only on its English language service without giving an explanation for the blast, which comes a week after ethnic rioting in Urumqi left 184 people dead.

Reporting by Tyra Dempster and Chris Buckley in Urumqi, and Lucy Hornby in Beijing; Editing by Sugita Katyal