BEIJING • An explosion at a plant in central China yesterday afternoon has killed at least 21 people and injured five, state media reported.
The blast happened at a power plant in Dangyang, in the central province of Hubei, state television said yesterday. Rescue efforts were under way, reports said.
The blast came a day before the first anniversary of giant explosions that killed at least 165 people in the northern port of Tianjin.
The latest incident occurred at a coal-fired power plant.
A photograph purportedly from the scene showed a bare concrete shell and metal scaffolding standing by a smokestack.
The local government said it was investigating the cause of the accident. Three people seriously injured were being treated in hospital, reports said.
Newspapers said the company operating the plant was registered for power generation and sales of slag ash and petroleum products.
Deadly accidents at industrial plants in China are relatively common, and repeatedly raise questions about the country's safety standards.
Earlier this year, more than 130 people were taken to hospital after chemicals leaked from a plant in eastern China. In April, a chemical fire burned for 16 hours in the coastal province of Jiangsu after an explosion at a facility storing chemicals and fuel, requiring 400 firefighters to quell the flames.
The massive blasts in Tianjin, which caused over US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) in damages and killed at least 165, sparked widespread anger over a perceived lack of transparency by officials about the accident's causes and environmental impact.
A government inquiry into the Tianjin accident released in February recommended that 123 people be punished.
China has vowed to improve safety at such industrial facilities. But in Tianjin itself, there are complaints that a kilometre from the epicentre of the blast, nothing has changed.
"First the neighbourhood officials came and took notes and pictures, then the district government officials came and did the same, then the police and then city officials," said Mr Qin Tao, 36.
"But still I haven't heard anything, nothing has been done."
Mr Qin is trying to rebuild his business after the giant explosions.
The blast site is still inaccessible, with a blue metal wall ringing the perimeter. Patrolling police prevent journalists from getting a closer look, while a Swat car, parked on a highway overlooking the area, discourages anyone from stopping.
A brand new school next to the site sits empty and businesses are dark and locked.
Before the explosions, Mr Qin was preparing to open a logistics company. "I've plunged into debt since the government won't help us," Mr Qin told AFP.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE