A blast in a benzene production facility located in Jiangsu Province has affected thousands of people.
The death toll from an explosion in a Chinese chemical plant run by Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical in Yancheng last Thursday, 2:48 p.m., has risen to 64. Another 94 people are in critical condition.
Twenty-six people who died from the blast has been identified. Another 617 people were also injured. Around 1,000 firefighters in 176 fire brigade trucks were immediately dispatched to the area.
According to a 74-year-old witness, there were two explosions which occurred in less than one second. Schools nearby were also closed and around 4,000 workers and people living in the area were evacuated. The explosion also damages around 90 houses.
State TV reported that the fire became under control on Friday and an investigation is still ongoing to determine its cause. The explosion was so intense it left a created on the site’s ground. It even collapsed the house’s roofs and blew out windows.
Photos and videos from eyewitnesses which showed thick smoke on the blast site and bloody children crying also became viral online.
Tianjiayi Chemical in Yancheng is notorious for violating environmental laws for the past three years. The chemical factory produces benzene and has over 12 branches in China’s industrial park. The Yancheng government also said that police have already detained the company’s officials.
This is not the first time a chemical warehouse explosion in China has made rounds in Asia news. In 2015, around 160 people were killed in Tianjin, a northern coastal city. This incident sparked Chinese leaders to talk about the accountability crisis in the area.
During the 2015 accident, Chinese citizens expressed their frustration at their leaders for turning a blind eye on the poor industrial safety record of the company. The government was even accused of covering up the incident.
Reports also indicate that just like the 2015 incident, posts on social media were immediately censored by Chinese authorities. Additionally, explosions in China’s Hebei and Sichuan provinces also happened last year. It killed 23 and 19 people, respectively.