Chinese workers die in hydro plant blast

Apr 2, 2014

Four Chinese technicians died Monday night in an explosion while building a hydroelectric plant 40 miles east of Cuenca.

The victims were explosives experts working on the Chinese-financed Sopladora plant, a project manager at the plant site said.
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“These people were working on the expansion of a loading pit at the time of the explosion, whose cause is still being investigated,” Tito Torres, manager of state-run Hidropaute, the company in charge of construction, said on Wednesday.

The project, which began in 2011, is part of a network of eight hydroelectric plants being constructed throughout Ecaudor. The country hopes that the projects will enable it to stop importing electric power and become an exporter of clean energy.

The Sopladora plant, located between Azuay and Morona Santiago provinces, is valued at $678 million and employs about 2,200 workers, of whom 400 are Chinese, Torres said. Sopladora, with a capacity of 487 megawatts, is expected to be operational in 2015.

The victims all lived in Cuenca.

Photo caption: A hyrdoelectric plant on the Paute River, east of Cuenca. It is similar to the Sopladora plant under construction on the same river.