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21.03.2019 Europe

Chemical Plant Explodes In Eastern China, At Least Six Dead

MAR 21, 2019 EUROPE

At least six people have been killed and dozens injured after a chemical plant exploded in Jiansu Province, China, according to local officials.

"At present, on-site rescue is still going on...The cause of the accident is under investigation," officials from the city of Yancheng said.

A reporter from state-run television said toxic fumes and thick grey smoke was coming from the blast site, which occurred at around 14:50 local time (06:50 GMT).

The blast knocked down factory buildings in the area and damaged homes, as residents were evacuated, reported local media. Medical, fire, and emergency staff have been sent to the area, while the injured were sent to hospital for treatment.

China's earthquake officials also reported that a 2.2 magnitude earthquake struck Lianyungang, a city near the blast, at around the same time.

According to Xinhua, the official news agency, the explosion occurred at Tianjiayi Chemical, in a fertilizer factory at the chemical industrial park.

Workers reportedly were trapped in buildings after the shockwaves from the blast knocked down a number of buildings.

Xinhua said that witnesses described workers covered in blood were seen running out of one factory. Emergency crews were working to find those still trapped.

Those in the area were concerned that strong winds had circulated the toxic fumes, but the Yancheng environment bureau said everyone in the area had been evacuated.

The accident is the latest in a series of industrial accidents that have plagued China, where safety regulations are not regularly enforced.

In February, a report published showed that the chemical company responsible for a November 2018 gas leak that caused an explosion killing 24 people had concealed the facts of the case and misled accident investigators.