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Safety in China

At least 2 dead as huge blast hits Chinese port city of Ningbo

Multiple casualties reported in city in Zhejiang province after explosion at building that neighbours say was due to be demolished

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 November, 2017, 10:58am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 November, 2017, 11:31pm

At least two people were killed after an explosion rocked the port city of Ningbo in eastern China’s Zhejiang province on Sunday, causing buildings to collapse.

The explosion, which occurred at about 8.50am, shattered windows up to a kilometre from the blast site. The cause of the explosion was still unknown around 10 hours after it took place.

In addition to the two deaths, another two people were “seriously injured” and 16 suffered minor injuries, China’s state-run CCTV reported.

While the cause of the blast is still under investigation, it is the latest in a series of incidents that have raised concerns about safety in China’s manufacturing sector.

In August 2015, two blasts ripped through the industrial Binhai New Area in the port city of Tianjin, killing 173 people – including firefighters – and injuring hundreds.

Another explosion in a residential complex in Fugu county, Shaanxi province, in October last year killed at least 14 people.

And in June, an explosion at a chemical plant in Shandong killed at least 10 people.

Sunday’s explosion occurred in Lijia village on the northern outskirts of Ningbo,where small workshops are dotted among the homes of residents.

According to the website of the Zhuangqiao sub-district administration, the village is home to 2,000 migrant workers but only 700 permanent residents. One of the village’s main sources of income is renting property to manufacturers, according to the site.

Footage from state television showed the explosion was very powerful, knocking holes on the walls of nearby buildings and shattering windows.

The Jiangbei district government has provided temporary shelter for those whose homes were damaged during the blast.

The municipal gas company said there was no gas pipeline near the explosion site.

Emergency workers sifted through the debris and found no one buried, CCTV reported, adding the explosion was at a site that was being demolished.

Video and pictures from the explosion site published on the Ningbo government’s news portal showed plumes of white smoke above the city.

Roofs collapsed and windows were shattered in nearby buildings.

The owner of Dazhong Restaurant on West Lijia Road, identifying himself only by his surname Feng, said the windows in his restaurant about 1km south of the blast site were broken by the explosion. He said the blast erupted inside a roadside house that was used for commercial purposes.

Another restaurant owner, surnamed Dong, said his shop was about 500 metres from the site and all windows facing the area had been shattered.

An employee at a hotel about a kilometre from the scene said “dozens of windows” were shattered in the explosion.