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05-12-06, 09:38
Breakdown of central heating system freezes tens of thousands


Beijing, Dec 5: Tens of thousands of residents in northwest China's Xinjiang are freezing in sub-zero temperatures after a boiler of the local heating company stopped working.

A boiler owned by the Xinjiang Huadian Weihuliang Power Generation Co. Ltd., which provides heating to a large section of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, stopped working on Saturday night, a company official said.

The repair of the boiler will take another three to five days, Xinhua news agency said, noting that local residents will have to shiver through temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius.

A build-up of dregs of up to 30 centimetres thick on the walls of the coal-fired boiler is being blamed for heat stoppage.

"It's the first time (this has happened) in the company's 53 years of history," Du Wei, the company's Communist Party chief said.

Burning low-quality, dirty coal caused the build-up on the walls of the boiler's furnace, he said. The broken boiler means at least 10,000 households and organisations, including hospitals, schools and a university are without heat.

The stoppage has effected parts of the Shuimogou and Tianshan districts of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which has a population of two million.

A saleswoman at an outlet of an electrical appliances stores said cheaper electric heaters have sold out while the more expensive models are selling well.

Some of the areas affected by the heat stoppage have also had powercuts.

--- PTI