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19 Dead, 12 Hurt After Chemical Plant Explosion

July 13, 2018
An explosion at a chemical plant in China killed 19 people on Thursday. Image courtesy of Pixabay
An explosion at a chemical plant in China killed 19 people on Thursday. Image courtesy of Pixabay

An explosion Thursday evening at a chemical plant in Yibin, Sichuan Province, China reportedly killed 19 people and injured a dozen others. Local media reports said the production facility was reduced to ruins. 

The blast was reported at the Yibin Hangda Technology Company facility at about 6:30 p.m. A witness to the event said they heard “seven explosions in ten minutes,” and saw several dozens of fire trucks respond to the site, according to coverage by Reuters that quoted an interview from the Chinese publication Beijing News. 

Images and video transmitted from the site in the wake of the incident showed large flames burning inside of the plant’s steel-framed remains.

While the cause remains unknown, fire crews told one Chinese news organization that methanol was involved in the explosion, The South China Morning Postreported. Yibin Hangda Technology supplies chemicals to food and pharmaceutical manufacturers, Reuters said, producing 300 tn/yr of benzoic acid and 2000 tn/yr of 5-nitroisophthalic acid at the plant in Yibin. 

Officials told state-run news service Xinhua that some parts of the plant were built illegally and were not cleared in checks for safety and fire hazards. In 2017, Yibin Hangda Technology was approved to expand its facilities to allow for increased production of chemical intermediates, according to the Morning Post. The Chinese government said it has brought several suspects into custody as the Ministry of Emergency Management conducts an investigation into the cause of the explosion.

Several large industrial accidents in China in recent years have drawn attention to the country’s poor regulation of occupational safety issues.

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