At least five killed and eight missing in Chinese chemical plant explosion

World

At least five people have died and another eight are missing after a massive explosion at a chemical plant in north-eastern China, according to state TV in the country.

The blast occurred at 3.13pm local time (7.13am GMT) on Sunday, just outside the city of Panjin in Liaoning province, east of Beijing.

A further 30 people were injured, according to the initial state TV report.

The explosion reportedly happened at a plant run by Haoye Chemical Co Ltd while workers were carrying out maintenance work.

Authorities said the cause of the explosion remains under investigation.

According to Chinese-based trade sources, the company has shut down its entire oil refinery and chemical complex, and the closure could last for months.

Footage released by local media showed flames and thick black smoke rising from chemical processing machinery, pipes and storage containers.

More on China

Explosion at a plant run by Haoye Chemical Co Ltd in Panjin, Liaoning province, China. Pic: Xinjingbao newspaper
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Pic: Xinjingbao newspaper

Fire crews have brought the blaze under control, according to the government of Panshan County, while the air quality in the area was being monitored.

Individuals posting on social media said they felt the shock of the explosion but the damage did not appear to extend beyond the plant.

Associate Professor at Andalas University, Benny Dwika Leonanda, posted numerous clips of the explosion, taken by the Xinjingbao newspaper, to Twitter.

Since he posted the footage, the death toll has increased from an initial two fatalities to at least five.

Last year, Panjin Haoye was among three independent refineries named by the Liaoning provincial government to have evaded fuel taxes amid a national clampdown to consolidate its refining sector.

Latest deadly industrial incident in China

This type of incident is not isolated, with China suffering a number of deadly industrial incidents in the past.

In 2015, an explosion at a chemical warehouse in the northern port of Tianjin killed 173, most of them members of the emergency services.

Binhai New Area in Tianjin, China, 2015. Pic: AP
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Aftermath of an explosion in a chemical warehouse in Tianjin, China, 2015. Pic: AP

Since then, the central government has pledged stronger safety measures after a number of local officials were accused of taking bribes to ignore safety violations.

Another incident in 2019, at the Tianjiayi chemical plant in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, killed 47 people and left hundreds more injured.

Tianjiayi Chemical, in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province, China 2019
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Tianjiayi Chemical, in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province, China, 2019

The Yangcheng city government said at the time that nearly 1,000 people who lived in close proximity to the factory were moved as a precaution against leaks and additional blasts.

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