Six killed in Chinese chemicals plant explosion

Article by Amanda Jasi

FOLLOWING an explosion at a Tianjiayi chemicals plant in Yancheng, eastern China, six people are confirmed dead, and 30 have been seriously injured.

According to BBC News the explosion occurred at about 14:50 local time on 21 March. Firefighters and rescuers were immediately dispatched, and rescue is ongoing, according to the Yancheng Municipal Committee.

The explosion damaged nearby buildings, including schools, and vehicles, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP). Local residents and children were reportedly injured. There at least ten schools within 5 km of the site, reports SCMP.

BBC News reports that images on social media showed a fireball exploding at the site, billowing clouds, injured people, and damaged buildings.

Reportedly, the blast occurred in a production area of a plant owned by the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Company and involved benzene. SCMP reports that production at other plants in the area was unaffected.

BBC News reports that the China Earthquake Administration detected a tremor equivalent to 2.2-magnitude in Jiangsu at about the same time as the blast. It is not yet known whether the two events are connected.

According to SCMP, the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Company has previously received six administrative punishments for “failures regarding solid waste management, environmental impact assessment and air pollution”.

SCMP adds that in 2017, legal representative of the company Zhang Qinyue was jailed for 18 months and fined 300,000 yuan (US$44,788.8) for environmental violations. The company’s former purchasing manager, Wu Guozhong, was reportedly jailed for 15 months and fined 200,000 yuan. The company was fined 1m yuan, says SCMP.

Due to rapid growth, China has struggled to regulate its industrial safety, and this is just another in a series of industrial incidents. Last year a blast caused by a gas leak resulted in 23 deaths. And in another incident 19 people were killed in a chemical plant blast.

After a 2015 explosion in Tianjin killed 165 people, injured 798 and left eight people missing, the Chinese Government cracked down on safety. However, fatal industrial incidents continue to occur and anger the public.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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