Six killed, 30 injured in China pesticide plant blast

An explosion at a pesticide plant in eastern China's Jiangsu province has killed over 40 people and injured more than 600, state media say.
Rescue workers are seen near smoke following an explosion at a chemical industrial park in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province, China.
Rescue workers are seen near smoke following an explosion at a chemical industrial park in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province, China.PHOTO: REUTERS
Smoke billows from a fire following an explosion at the pesticide plant owned by Tianjiayi Chemical, in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province, China, on March 21, 2019.
Smoke billows from a fire following an explosion at the pesticide plant owned by Tianjiayi Chemical, in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province, China, on March 21, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS
Paramilitary police officers transfer an injured man after an explosion in Yancheng in China's eastern Jiangsu province, on March 21, 2019.
Paramilitary police officers transfer an injured man after an explosion in Yancheng in China's eastern Jiangsu province, on March 21, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (XINHUA, AFP) - Six people are killed and 30 others seriously injured after an explosion ripped through an industrial park in the city of Yancheng, eastern China’s Jiangsu province on Thursday (March 21) afternoon, local authorities said.

The explosion happened at about 2.48pm following a fire that broke out at a chemical facility run by Tianjiayi Chemical that produces pesticides located in a chemical industrial park, said the government of Xiangshui county.

Workers were trapped after buildings were knocked down by the shockwave, which also shattered windows of nearby residential houses. Witnesses said many workers were seen running out of the factory covered in blood after the blast.

Thirty-one people have been rescued as of 5pm, the Ministry of Emergency Management said.

Around the time of the explosion, China's earthquake administration reported a 2.2-magnitude tremor in Lianyungang, a city near the Yancheng blast.

Injured residents near the site of the explosion have been sent to hospital for treatment, according to local authorities.

Medical staff, as well as personnel from the public security bureau and fire department have been sent to the scene, they added.

The provincial fire brigade said on Weibo they had recovered 12 injured from the scene.

Video footage published by state-run Beijing News on Weibo, showed an enormous explosion, with flames engulfing the top of the chemical plant.

Other shots showed thick grey smoke billowing skyward from the site of the blast.

Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed windows of nearby houses blown out from the force of the explosion.

History of industrial disasters

Industrial accidents are common in China, where safety regulations are often poorly enforced.

In November, a truck carrying combustible chemicals exploded at the entrance of a chemical factory in a northern Chinese city that will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, killing at least 23 people and injuring 22 others.

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

Last July, a blast at a chemical plant in southwest Sichuan province left 19 dead and 12 injured. 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 $1 billion in damage and sparked widespread anger at a perceived lack of transparency over the accident's causes and its environmental impact.