Death toll from blast in town in China climbs to 14, with 147 injured: Xinhua

Rescue workers are seen at the site of an explosion in Xinmin, Shaanxi province, on Oct 24, 2016.
Rescue workers are seen at the site of an explosion in Xinmin, Shaanxi province, on Oct 24, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - The toll from a powerful explosion in China rose to 14 dead and 147 injured on Tuesday (Oct 25), state media said, as the authorities censored discussion of the incident online.

Monday's blast in Xinmin, in the northern province of Shaanxi, tore through five prefabricated buildings, destroying or damaging 58 others, the official Xinhua news agency said. It may have been caused by illegally stored explosives, an initial investigation found.

Pictures showed widespread damage, with windows blown out of buildings, a crater in the street, and bloodied victims lying on the ground.

Rescue efforts had concluded by Tuesday morning, and more than 100 of the injured were still hospitalised, Xinhua said, citing the local authorities.

The explosion comes at a time of heightened vigilance for the ruling Communist Party, which holding a high-level meeting in Beijing, the "Sixth Plenum".

Outraged social media users said that there were comparatively few reports on the incident available online, and others had been deleted, with comments on many platforms disabled.

"They've closed off discussion of the incident and don't dare reveal the numbers of casualties and deaths," wrote one incensed user. "Such a big incident, and they're preparing to quash it under pressure."

Another cried: "The one-party dictatorship that controls the throne is only interested in the good of the party, not of the people! Where is China's future?"

Industrial accidents are common in China, where safely regulations are often flouted.

Giant explosions at a chemical storage facility in the northern port of Tianjin last year killed at least 165 people, sending a monumental fireball skyward and mangling structures kilometres away.