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Local officials reported at least five people were killed and one person was injured by the explosion in Tianmen, near Wuhan in China. The blast rocked an industrial park at 2:15pm China time (5:15am BST) on Monday. It follows another chemical plant explosion in August killing six workers in Hubei province.
Yuekou Industrial Park in Tianmen saw a plate and frame press explode during equipment testing.
Following the blast, search and rescue efforts were scrambled to save residents buried under rubble.
Footage from Chinese video platform PearVideo showed the aftermath of the explosion, with an injured press being carried away from the wreckage on a stretcher.
It also showed thick yellow smoke billowing out from the facility, which a local claimed could indicate a nitric acid leak.
Hubei authorities claimed the facility produces pharmaceutical products used to make treatments and drugs.
Tianmen Chutian Fine Chemicals Company, who owns the plant, was fined in April for illegally dumping waste water.
Chinese media reports claimed the Tianmen plant had received multiple complaints from locals.
Residents alerted authorities after they reported the facility releasing gases which caused irritation.
China sees frequent industrial accidents and poor workplace safety due to poor enforcement of regulations and negligence of safety standards.
The Tianmen explosion follows another chemical plant explosion in Xiantao city in August.
The huge blast killed six people and injured four after a flash explosion.
Local authorities claimed it was caused by the operators’ “irregular behaviour” and lack of risk identification.
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In March last year, Yancheng in Eastern Jiangsu province saw a massive explosion in another chemical plant.
The 2019 blast killed 78 people and injured a staggering 617, as well as damaging 16 neighbouring factories.
Cao Lubao, mayor of Yancheng, announced around 3,000 people were evacuated from the area.
President Xi Jinping said no effort should be spared to rescue trapped people and treat the injured
China saw its biggest explosion in 2015, where a Tianjin factory hosted a huge blast which was described as like an “atomic bomb”.
A total of 173 people, at least 80 of who were firefighters, were killed in the blast, which also injured around 800 others.
An official report published in 2016 blamed the illegal storage of 11,300 tonnes of hazardous chemicals.
It concluded that the explosion occurred after a highly flammable chemical, nitro-cotton, had been allowed to dry-out and self-ignite in its barrel, setting fire to other nearby chemicals such as ammonium nitrate which then led to a devastating chain reaction.
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