Firemen and paramilitary search at an explosion site in Yancheng in Jiangsu province on Thursday. Agence France-Presse
BEIJING: A huge explosion rocked a chemical plant in eastern China on Thursday, killing at least six people and injuring dozens as it knocked down factory buildings, damaged homes and sent a huge plume of smoke skyward.
The windows of houses and a school in the surrounding area were shattered by the force of the explosion, and residents were evacuated, according to authorities and images published by local media.
The latest industrial incident to rock China in recent years occurred at around 2:50pm (0650 GMT) at a facility run by Tianjiayi Chemical in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, city officials said on their official Twitter-like Weibo account.
Around the time of the explosion, China’s earthquake administration reported a 2.2-magnitude tremor in Lianyungang, a city near the Yancheng blast.
An aerial view of the blast area showed a large swath of destruction in the industrial park, where multiple fires still raged as firefighters tried to douse them with hoses.
A CCTV reporter on the scene said that toxic fumes were coming from the blast site.
At least six people were killed and 30 seriously injured, while numerous others in the vicinity were slightly injured, city officials said on Weibo late on Thursday.
“At present, on-site rescue is still going on... The cause of the accident is under investigation,” officials said.
Rescuers interviewed by CCTV repeatedly described the ground situation as “complex,” adding that the focus is still on trying to pull people from the site.
Injured residents near the site of the explosion have been sent to hospital for treatment, according to local authorities.
Medical staff, as well as personnel from the public security bureau and fire department, have been sent to the scene, they added.
According to official news agency Xinhua, citing local authorities, the explosion occurred following a fire in a fertiliser factory in the chemical industrial park.
Workers near the site of the blast were trapped after shockwaves from the explosion knocked down nearby factory buildings, the report said.
Workers covered in blood were seen running out of the factory, Xinhua added, citing witnesses.