A train station in Xinjiang that cost RMB 160 million to build has caught on fire just weeks before it was to be finished. The main hall of the Kumul train station caught on fire at around 5:19pm on August 21, reports Sina News, sending plumes of smoke into the sky.
The fire was brought under control by firefighters by 6pm. No injuries were reported.
The fire was apparently an accident. Construction workers accidentally ignited a layer of insulation in the walls, which spread quickly. It grew to about 600 square meters in size. The cost of the fire has yet to be determined.
Built by the Chinese Railroad No. 12 Department, the Kumul Railway Station was to be the second-largest train station in Xinjiang. Set to be completed by the end of this month, the station was to become operational by the end of the year by providing passengers with high-speed rail service.
Construction on the Kumul Railway Station began in 2012 with the main structure completed in October 2013. The facility featured a total space of 99.97 million square meters and cost RMB 160 million.
The development of transportation infrastructure in Xinjiang is indicative of the area’s double-digit growth rate, but hasn’t alleviated the area’s growing ethnic tensions between Han Chinese and the Uighur minority. Transportation hubs such as train stations have been targeted in bomb and knife attacks that have killed dozens of people.
Reza Hasmath, an expert on Chinese politics at the University of Oxford, has said “Infrastructure-based development has not been successful in improving meaningful interactions between Hans and Uighurs.”
Here is a video of the fire:
Photos: People’s Daily