NINGBO (REUTERS, AFP) - A major explosion hit China’s megaport city of Ningbo on Sunday (Nov 26), killing at least two people, injuring dozens and wrecking buildings, state media and local authorities said.
The Ningbo government said on a social media account that the blast occurred in a “vacant lot” but it did not provide details about what may have caused it.
More than 30 people were rushed to the local hospital. Rescue efforts were continuing.
Television images showed men wearing helmets carrying injured people away from the area.
According to state broadcaster CCTV, eyewitnesses said there were “a large number of injured people”.
The explosion happened at around 9 am at a factory in Jiangbei district in Ningbo, a port city about 100 km south of Shanghai. CCTV said it was not a gas explosion, without elaborating further.
In a separate report, China Central Television (CCTV) said the force of the explosion shattered windows and punched holes in the walls of buildings sited as far as a kilometre away.
Television images showed cars twisted and mangled by the blast, plume of grey smoke rising in the sky and a low-rise building with a collapsed wall.
Several buildings collapsed in a nearby residential area that had already been cleared of people, according to Zhejiang Daily.
Ningbo is one of the country’s major international container shipping ports.
Police told Reuters the area had been marked for demolition.
Blasts and other accidents are common in China due to patchy enforcement of safety rules, although the government has pledged to improve checks to stamp out such incidents.
In one of the worst industrial disasters in recent years, a massive explosion in August 2015 at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin killed more than 165 people and caused losses estimated at more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion).
A government inquiry into the Tianjin accident released in February 2016 recommended 123 people be punished.
The official who was mayor at the time of the accident was sentenced to 12 years in prison for graft in September. Huang Xingguo, 62, had also headed the disaster response committee.