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China pesticide plant blast kills at least 78

Christian Fernsby ▼ | March 25, 2019
The death toll from a chemical plant explosion in eastern China rose to 78 on March 25, with hundreds still receiving medical treatment four days after one of the country's worst industrial accidents.
China chemical plant blast
Asia   More than 500 people are still in hospital
The March 21 explosion at Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical, in Yancheng city razed an industrial park and blew out the windows of surrounding homes.

More than 500 people are still in hospital, local authorities said.

Among them, 13 are critically injured and 66 are seriously injured.

Out of the 28 people who were reported as missing on Saturday, 25 have been found dead and three successfully rescued, city officials said.

The city government said some 89 houses were damaged beyond repair and families were resettled after those structures had been demolished.

Local authorities are investigating the cause of the accident and said an unspecified number of people have been taken into police custody.

Survivors were taken to 16 hospitals with 640 people initially being treated for injuries.

The fire spread to neighbouring factories and children at a kindergarten in the vicinity were also injured, the state news agency reported.

Local press reported that 176 fire trucks and 928 firefighters were initially involved in the incident.

The South China Morning Post said the explosion was heard 40km away and China's earthquake administration reported a tremor equivalent to 2.2-magnitude at the time of the explosion on the afternoon of March 21.

Yancheng mayor Cao Lubao said that nearly 3,000 people – employees of nearby plants and residents – were evacuated after the explosion.

Schools and kindergartens had been closed while the authorities monitored air and water quality, Cao said.

Tests downwind from the explosion site found levels of nitrogen oxides at high levels, capable of causing respiratory problems, the Jiangsu Ecology and Environment Department said.

All three of the rivers in the industrial park were polluted with high levels of dichloroethane and dichloromethane, it said.

Local authorities were taking measures to prevent polluted water flowing outside the industrial park, the South China Morning Post said.