30,000 living near China chemical plant evacuated before fire put out

BEIJING (AFP) - Almost 30,000 people living near a Chinese chemical plant where a huge fire blazed for a total of nearly 50 hours were evacuated before the flames were finally extinguished on Thursday, the media said.

The fire at the factory producing paraxylene - a chemical commonly known as PX and used to make fabric - began on Monday evening, with explosions rocking the building in Zhangzhou.

The fire was first put out on Tuesday night, but two storage tanks ignited again on Wednesday, the official news agency Xinhua reported. "A total of 29,096 people have been evacuated from the surrounding area," Xinhua news agency said late on Wednesday, adding in a separate dispatch Thursday that the fire had "finally been put out" in the early hours.

Six people were injured at the factory in the eastern province of Fujian, the agency said, in its second accident in two years.

Television footage earlier this week showed flames billowing into the air as more than 800 firefighters battled to control the blaze.

Proposals for plants producing PX, a flammable and carcinogenic liquid used in the production of polyester films and fabrics, have sparked large protests in several Chinese cities in recent years over perceived health risks.

The Zhangzhou PX plant was originally slated to be built in the nearby coastal city of Xiamen, but was moved to its present site after thousands took part in a protest in 2007.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.