Chemical plant blast kills Jiangsu worker

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 December, 2007, 12:00am

At least one worker died yesterday in an explosion at a chemical plant in Yixing , Jiangsu province - the third accident at the plant in three years - villagers and officials said.

A villager in Fenshui, in Zhoutie township, said a severed human leg had been blown more than 20 metres by the blast at the Tianyin Chemical Factory.

'We all heard a deafening sound from the Tianyin Chemical Factory around 9am,' said the 63-year-old villager, who refused to be named.

'Security guards and local police blocked off the whole factory immediately ... But workers from a neighbouring factory told us that they believed at least one was killed because a human thigh had flown from the chemical plant to their factory.'

A spokesman for the Zhoutie township police station confirmed the blast. 'The blast was caused by improper operations by a repair worker in the factory. He was also the only one who was killed at the scene,' the spokesman said. No other injuries had been reported, he said.

Six workers were killed and 11 injured in an explosion at the same plant on February 14, 2005. Another explosion there killed two laboratory technicians on April 15 last year.

Villagers say protection by officials is the main reason little has been done to stop such accidents.

'Local officials just focus on levying taxes from the high-risk industry, but ignore our safety,' said resident Xu Jiehua , the wife of prominent eco-warrior Wu Lihong , who was sentenced to three years' jail in August for fraud and extortion.

Hangzhou-based environmental activist Chen Faqing questioned Yixing's citation this year as one of the mainland's 'environmentally friendly model cities'.

'If a chemical factory has failed in safe production requirements over the past three years, how can it reach the environmental protection standard?' Mr Chen asked.