Explosion kills four at Ecuador’s 487.8-MW Sopladora hydropower project

Four Chinese explosives experts were killed yesterday while working on an underground extension of Ecuador’s 487.8-MW Sopladora hydropower project, local sources have reported.

Officials from developer Hidropaute said the technicians were killed in what appears to be an accidental explosion, though a cause is still being investigated.

HydroWorld.com reported that the government of Ecuador signed a credit agreement providing US$571 million from the China Export-Import Bank in October 2011 to build and equip the hydroelectric plant.

The project, located on the Paute River in Azuay and Morona Santiago provinces, does not include a dam, but instead uses water discharged by the 1,075-MW Paute plant.

Hidropaute said there are currently about 2,200 workers employed at the Sopladora site, including 400 Chinese. Completion is expected in 2015.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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