At least 47 dead in explosion at China pesticide plant

March 22, 2019 11:49
Smoke billows from fire following an explosion at a pesticide plant of Tianjiayi Chemical in Yancheng in China’s Jiangsu province on Thursday. Photo: Reuters

An explosion at a pesticide plant in eastern China has killed 47 people and injured more than 600, according to reports.

The blast occurred on Thursday at the Chenjiagang Industrial Park in the city of Yancheng, in Jiangsu province, Reuters said, citing Chinese state media.

The fire was brought under control at 3 am on Friday local time.

Survivors were taken to 16 hospitals with 640 people being treated for injuries. Thirty-two of them were said to have been critically injured.

The fire at a plant owned by the Tianjiayi Chemical Company spread to neighboring factories. Children at a kindergarten in the vicinity were also injured in the blast, media reported.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation.

Tianjiayi Chemical, which produces more than 30 organic chemical compounds, has been cited and fined for work safety violations in the past, the China Daily noted.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is in Italy on a state visit, ordered all-out efforts to care for the injured and to “earnestly maintain social stability”, state television said.

Authorities must step up action to prevent such incidents from happening and find out the cause of the blast as quickly as possible, Xi added.

The Jiangsu environmental protection bureau said in a statement late Thursday that the environmental monitoring station in the area had found no abnormal concentrations of toluene, xylene or benzene.

Concentrations of acetone and chloroform outside the perimeter of the explosion zone were also within normal limits, it added.

Jiangsu will launch inspections on chemical producers and warehouses, according to an emergency notice published by official media on Friday.

In the notice the government warned that it will shut down any chemical firms found not complying with regulations on dangerous chemicals.

Public anger over safety standards has grown in China over industrial accidents that have marred three decades of swift economic growth.

In 2015, 165 people were killed in a series of explosions at a chemical warehouse in the northern city of Tianjin, Reuters noted.

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