Hot weather linked to Shanxi blast that hurt hundreds

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 12:00am

About 80 students were among the 336 people injured in an explosion at a military chemical factory in Shanxi province that damaged property over an area of 8 sq km.

Initial investigations indicated that high temperatures on Tuesday ignited homemade explosives stored at the Jiangyang Chemical Engineering Group in the suburbs of the provincial capital, Taiyuan , the China News Service reported.

The illegal explosives had been confiscated by police and stored at the plant, the report said.

Six of the injured were in critical condition, while 174 remained in hospital. Nobody was killed in the incident.

The huge blast affected at least 27 villages and six schools, with the primary school in Yuwen village hit hardest.

About 130 teachers and students were at the school when the blast occurred. More than 80 students, most of them aged between six and 11, and five teachers were hit by shattered glass. The injured children were taken to a village clinic, which quickly ran out of antiseptic, the report said.

Damage of varying degrees was also reported to homes and stores near the plant.

Like many northern areas, Taiyuan has been in the grip of a heatwave, with temperatures in the city hovering around 39 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

The local government's media office refused to comment on the explosion, citing the need for special permission from the agency overseeing military enterprises, the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.

The Jiangyang Chemical Engineering Group was set up in 1954 and is one of the country's key military enterprises.