The death toll in a huge blast at a chemical plant in eastern China is 47, with 90 badly injured, according to state news agency Xinhua. The powerful explosion followed a fire at the factory which produces fertilizer. China’s earthquake administration reported a tremor equivalent to 2.2-magnitude at the time of the blast.
The death toll makes it one of the country’s worst industrial accidents in recent years.
The blast happened at about 14:50 local time (06:50 GMT) on Thursday at a plant in Yancheng, run by Tianjiayi Chemical. According to Xinhua, a total of 640 people were sent to hospital. Many were in critical condition and dozens had severe injuries.
Staff at the Henglida Chemical Factory, 3km (1.8 miles) from the explosion, said its roof collapsed as they fled, and windows and doors were blown out. The fire was brought under control at around 03:00 local time on Friday, state TV said.
One woman, who gave her surname as Xiang, said she had been concerned about safety and pollution levels at the plant for some time. The exact cause of Thursday’s explosion is still under investigation. Tianjiayi Chemical, founded in 2007, has received six government penalties in the past over waste management and air pollution, according to the South China Morning Post.
President Xi Jinping has called for an “all-out effort” to aid the injured and said authorities must learn lessons from the blast to prevent future accidents.