THE death toll from a huge explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China surged to 47 on Friday, making it one of the country’s worst industrial accidents in recent years.
More than 600 people are receiving medical treatment following Thursday afternoon’s blast at the industrial park in Yancheng, said the city government on its official Twitter-like Weibo account.
Among them, at least 90 are seriously injured.
City officials had previously said that at least 12 people were killed and 30 injured in the explosion in Jiangsu province.
The explosion was so powerful that it apparently triggered a small earthquake, knocked down several factory buildings and shattered the windows of homes a few kilometres away.
“We knew we’d be blown up one day,” said one 60-year-old woman surnamed Xiang.
She said she had harboured concerns about safety and pollution at the site for a long time.
Hundreds of rescuers have been dispatched to the scene, local authorities said, and more than 3,000 people have been evacuated from the blast site.
The blaze from the explosion has been extinguished, said local officials Friday, after firefighters battled raging flames through the night. Three chemical tanks and five other areas had been on fire.
Authorities, who are investigating the cause of the accident, said an unspecified number of people were taken into police custody.
The chemical facility involved in the explosion belonged to Tianjiayi Chemical, a firm with 195 employees established in 2007.
According to local officials, the Jiangsu-based company mainly produced raw chemical materials, including anisole, a highly flammable compound.