Explosion kills four at Sopladora hydropower project in Ecuador

Explosion claims the lives of four Chinese workers at the Sopladora hydroelectric power project in Ecuador. (Image: Workers near a tunnel at the construction site of the Sopladora hydroelectric power project in Ecuador 2011)

An explosion at the Sopladora hydroelectric project in Ecuador has claimed the lives of four Chinese workers, reports Xinhua. The identities of the victims have not been disclosed, but their families have been notified.

According to the article, the blast occurred Tuesday at approximately 8 p.m. local time within a vertical shaft where the four explosives experts had been working. Rescue efforts continued for over five hours before the bodies of the workers were discovered.

No other injuries were reported and the cause of the explosion is still under investigation.

Sopladora is the third of four new hydropower projects on the Paute River. The project is an important undertaking for Ecuador, which is looking to significantly boost its domestic energy portfolio. Leading the project build is engineering and construction firm Gezhouba Group.

Upon completion, Sopladora will have a net generating capacity of 487.8 MW. The project is unique in that unlike many traditional hydropower stations its design will not utilize a dam. Instead, the new station will use the water discharged by the 1,075 MW Paute station. Sopladora is slated for completion in 2015.

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