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Record blast moves mountain

HONG KONG (Reuter) - Chinese soldiers blew up an entire mountain with the world's biggest non-nuclear explosion yesterday, sending earthquake-like tremors through Hong Kong and Macau.

Engineers detonated 12,000 tons of dynamite inside Paotai Mountain to allow for the expansion of an airport in China's Zhuhai Special Economic Zone which is next to Macau. Seismologists in Hong Kong, 40 miles away, said the blast had been felt by many people and was equivalent to an earthquake of 3.4 on the Richter scale.

China's official Xinhua News Agency said 1,000 technicians had spent months preparing for the explosion. 'Technical measures have been taken to buffer the magnitude of the shock from about four on the Richter scale to about 2.5,' it added. The explosion shifted nearly 11 million cubic metres (388 million cubic feet) of earth and stones.

Until yesterday, the biggest ever non-nuclear blast was the use of 7,122 tons of explosives to destroy German naval fortifications at Heligoland at the end of the Second World War.