At least 22 dead in blast outside northern China chemical plant

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – An explosion outside a chemical plant in north-eastern China has killed at least 22 people, injured at least 22 more, and destroyed scores of vehicles.

An official news release said the blast occurred just after midnight at a loading dock next to the plant operated by the Hebei Shenghua Chemical Industry Co. Ltd.

The plant is in the city of Zhangjiakou, which is to play host to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

In a statement, the Zhangjiakou city government said 38 trucks and 12 passenger cars were destroyed by fire.

“We request that citizens do not go to the site to watch in order to avoid disrupting recovery efforts,” the statement said.

Industrial safety is a major concern in China, where requirements for the storage and transport of chemicals and other dangerous products are often weakly enforced.

A massive explosion in 2015 traced to improperly stored chemicals killed at least 173 people in Tianjin, about an hour east of Beijing.

More recently, 52 people became sick when around 7 tonnes of the common chemical additive C9 leaked while workers were loading barrels onto a ship in Fujian province on November 4.

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