China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Monday, November 14, 2005

One dead, 5 missing in chemical plant blasts

Smoke billows out after a series of blasts hit a chemical factory in Jilin City, Northeast China's Jilin Province Sunday November 13, 2005. Six workers were missing and 70 others were injured, with tens of thousands local residents evacuated. [Xinhua]

(China Daily) Updated: 2005-11-14 05:10

CHANGCHUN: One person was killed and five others were missing, with nearly 70 others wounded in a series of blasts that rocked a chemical plant in Northeast China's Jilin Province yesterday afternoon.

There has been no report of deaths by press time, local authorities said.

The explosions took place at a workshop in No 101 Chemical Plant of Jilin Petrochemical Company between 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm in the city of Jilin, some 100 kilometres east of the provincial capital Changchun, according to rescuers.

The wounded were treated at two hospitals and by late last night, two of the seriously injured underwent surgery.

More than 10,000 residents were evacuated as a precaution against more explosions and severe pollution from the plant, which produces benzene.

The evacuees were residents of two communities, and students in the northern section of Beihua University and Jilin Institute of Chemical Technology.

The blasts shattered windowpanes of buildings 100 to 200 metres away from the plant, witnesses said.

The site of the accident has been cordoned off and police last night were busy trying to evacuate more residents. The cause of the blasts is under investigation.

State television showed billowing clouds of black smoke enveloping the city of 1.25 million.

It took nearly 300 firefighters to bring the blaze under control, television reports said. Rescuers say the fire is yet to be put out completely.

The local government asked evacuees to stay with relatives, and also encouraged hotels to put them up. Many taxi drivers ferried the residents free of charge.

A woman who answered the telephone at Jilin Petrochemical Company Hospital said about 40 to 50 people were receiving treatment. She hung up when asked for details.

At the Jilin Central Hospital, a doctor in the emergency department said "several people with minor injuries" were brought in.

They appeared to have been outside the plant and were injured by glass shards, said the doctor, who would not give his name.

An official with the Jilin municipal government, who also refused to identify himself, said "leaders were directing rescue work at the blast site."

Wang Yunkun, chief of the Jilin Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, and Jilin Governor Wang Min reached the blast scene to oversee rescue work.

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