Blast at southwest China fireworks factory kills at least six

By BNO News

QINGZHOU CITY, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — At least six people were killed and nearly a dozen others were injured after an explosion at a fireworks factory in southwest China, state-run media reported.

The blast happened at around 6 p.m. local time at a private fireworks factory in Qinzhou City of southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. The agency reported that at least six people were killed, while eleven others were injured.

The cause of the blast was not immediately known, and Xinhua said an investigation is underway.

The accident comes nearly week after another massive explosion destroyed a fireworks factory in northeast China. It happened around 9.40 a.m. local time at the Hua Li Industrial Co., Ltd. in the Uma River District of Yichun City, in the country’s Heilongjiang Province, on Monday. Most of the factory was destroyed.

The State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement that 20 people had been killed in the explosion, while 153 others were injured. Four people remain missing and are believed to have been killed.

The Administration said the company’s production permit was confiscated in June in order for it to improve its work. However, according to an initial investigation, it appeared the company had resumed work illegally.

The casualties included employees of the fireworks factory as well as local residents. The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that 10 of the factory’s 51 workers were killed, while 35 of them were injured. Four remain unaccounted for.

Eight workers were also killed at the neighboring Taiye Wood Factory, while 35 other workers were also injured at the neighboring factory. Near the factories, at least two pedestrians were killed and 83 others were injured.

A large blaze broke out at the scene after the initial explosion, but was largely brought under control after a helicopter dropped water onto it on Monday. By early Tuesday morning, most of the fire had been extinguished although smoke continued to surround the area for a long time.

More than 2,000 residents were evacuated after the explosion shattered windows within a one kilometer (mile) radius of the factory, Xinhua reported, which said iron fences 100 meters from the factory were damaged in the blast. The powerful explosion was felt more than 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Although rare, explosions at fireworks factories are often very deadly. On May 13, 2000, twenty-three people were killed and nearly 950 others were injured when a massive fireworks explosion devastated a neighborhood in the Dutch city of Enschede.

And on February 1, 2008, twenty-two people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when an unlicensed fireworks factory exploded in the Turkish capital of Istanbul.

(Copyright 2010 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

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