Blast in China's Hebei province kills 22, injures at least 22

VIDEO: REUTERS
A charred car is seen on a road after an explosion and fire near a chemical factory in Zhangjiakou, on Nov 28.
A charred car is seen on a road after an explosion and fire near a chemical factory in Zhangjiakou, on Nov 28.PHOTO: TWITTER/ CGTN
The charred and smoking remains of trucks and cars were scattered on a road as firefighters worked at the scene.
The charred and smoking remains of trucks and cars were scattered on a road as firefighters worked at the scene.PHOTO: TWITTER/ CGTN

BEIJING (AFP) - An explosion and fire near a chemical factory left at least 22 people dead and 22 others injured on Wednesday (Nov 28) in a northern China region that will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, the authorities said.

The incident near Hebei Shenghua Chemical Co in Zhangjiakou, a city some 200km north-west of Beijing, also burned 50 large and small trucks, the local propaganda department said on its Weibo social media account. 

The injured were taken to hospital for treatment following the blast, which occurred at 12.41am, according to the statement. 

The charred and smoking remains of trucks and cars were scattered on a road as firefighters worked at the scene, according to photos posted on Twitter by state broadcaster CGTN.

The statement did not say whether the factory was affected by the blast or whether it took place on a road. 

“On-site search and rescue work and investigation of the cause of the accident are still under way,” the propaganda department said. 

Zhangjiakou will host the Olympic alpine skiing events at the 2022 Winter Games, which Beijing is organising. 

It was not immediately clear if the explosion was near the site of the games. 

INDUSTRIAL, ROAD ACCIDENTS 

Road and industrial accidents are common in China. A blast at a chemical plant in south-west Sichuan province left 19 dead and 12 injured in July. 

The company had undertaken illegal construction that had not passed safety checks, according to local authorities. 

In 2015, giant chemical blasts in a container storage facility killed at least 165 people in the northern port city of Tianjin. 

The explosions caused more than US$1 billion (S$1.38 billion) in damage and sparked widespread anger at a perceived lack of transparency over the accident’s causes and its environmental impact.

China has also experienced its share of horrific road crashes, with traffic regulations often flouted or unenforced. 

Two cars ploughed into crowds in two separate incidents in recent days: Five children were killed when a driver deliberately rammed into students crossing a road in north-east China last week, and seven people died when another car hit people on a pavement in the south-west on Tuesday. 

An out-of-control truck ploughed into a 31-car line-up in north-west Gansu province earlier this month, killing 15 people and injuring 44

In November last year, a highway pile-up involving at least 30 cars killed 18 people in eastern Anhui province.