Published: Fri, March 22, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Death toll soars in China chemical blast

Death toll soars in China chemical blast

The fire at a plant owned by the Tianjiayi Chemical Company spread to neighboring factories.

An injured person is helped by rescuers near the site of an explosion at a chemical industrial park in Xiangshui county, in east China's Jiangsu province.

An explosion at a pesticide plant in eastern China has killed 47 people and injured as many as 640, the state media said on Friday, the latest casualties in a series of industrial accidents that has angered the public.

An aerial view of the blast area showed a large swath of destruction in the industrial park, where multiple fires had initially raged.

Firefighters were still battling small fires Friday, after working through the night to put out the main blaze, state media reported.

According to state-run People's Daily, 90 others have been seriously injured in Thursday's blast, which was so powerful it knocked down nearby factory buildings and shattered the windows of surrounding homes, while apparently triggering a small 2.2-magnitude natural disaster.

Police have already detained officials from Tianjiayi Chemical, the Yancheng government said.

Images on social media showed a fireball exploding at the site, billowing clouds enveloping the area, injured people and damage to buildings.

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Authorities must step up action to prevent such incidents from happening and find out the cause of the blast as quickly as possible, Xi added.

The explosion occurred following a fire in a fertiliser factory, according to official news agency Xinhua, citing local authorities. One 74-year old eyewitness told The Paper, a Shanghai-based outlet, that he heard two distinct explosions less than a second apart that were so forceful they shattered the windows and buckled the ceilings of the house he was in, one mile away from the blast site. The state-run Xinhua News Agency warned local officials in a commentary that they were learning "lessons paid for in blood" because of a string of recent major safety lapses.

The Jiangsu environmental protection bureau said in a statement late on Thursday that the environmental monitoring station in the area had found no abnormal concentrations of toluene, xylene or benzene.

A chemical factory in eastern China's Yancheng City exploded today (March 21), shaking buildings for miles around.

China has long struggled with industrial safety.

A report published by local authorities last month revealed that the Chinese chemical firm responsible for the accident had concealed information and misled investigators.

In 2015, 165 people were killed in explosions at a chemical warehouse in the northern city of Tianjin, one of the world's busiest ports, which is not far from the capital, Beijing.

In July the same year, 13 people died after an explosion at a chemical plant in southwestern Sichuan.

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