Twenty people died and 24 were seriously injured when a fuel tanker exploded on a highway in eastern China on Saturday afternoon, according to police. The tanker exploded after the vehicle ran off a highway near Wenling, a small coastal city in Zhejiang province, news portal Hangzhou.com.cn quoted the Zhejiang Public Security Bureau as saying. Several homes and factories collapsed in the blast and sections of the Ningbo-Taizhou-Wenzhou were closed, the report said. More than 450 firefighters were sent to the scene to rescue people trapped in their houses and cars, according to state broadcaster CGTN. Preliminary investigations indicated that the explosion occurred as the driver of the truck, transporting the fuel from Ningbo to Wenzhou, was exiting the expressway, reports said. Police said the injured were sent to hospitals and the cause of the blast was under investigation. More than 170 people were injured in the blast, Shanghai-based news site The Paper reported. Footage posted online showed plumes of thick, black smoke and several vehicles on fire. Resident Chen Yungui told CGTN that the incident occurred at around 5.40pm, and the force of the blast caused a wind turbine plant near the site to collapse. The Paper quoted another witness as saying the explosion was so big that the whole town could hear it. “The windows of houses nearby were shaken and shattered,” the witness said. The incident is one of the deadliest in China in the past few months and comes as the country struggles to get back to normal after months of lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.