At least 10 killed, hundreds injured in east China plant explosion

07:57, July 29, 2010      

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A powerful explosion at a factory in eastern China's Nanjing City Wednesday has left at least 10 people dead and hundreds injured, including 14 critically, the city government said.

Officials of the government of Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, told a press conference Wednesday evening that 10 people were killed and 14 others suffered serious injuries after the blast at 10:11 a.m. ripped through an abandoned plastics factory in northern Nanjing's Xixia District.

Further, more than 120 people have been hospitalized, according to the official.

The death toll, which is based on the number of bodies so far recovered, could climb as rescuers are still clearing the explosion site and some injured people are reported to be in very critical condition.

The blast was caused by a gas leak after a propylene pipeline was damaged as workers dismantled factory buildings of the Nanjing No. 4 Plastics Factory, said a statement from the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).

The rescue headquarters say an excavator owned by Yangzhou Hongyuan Construction and Development Co., Ltd. hit a a pipe of 159 mm in diameter.

The gas leak started at 9:56 a.m. and explosion occurred at 10:11 a.m.Gas supply was cut off a minute later, said Liu Zhaohua, deputy head of Nanjin's work safety bureau.

The excavator operator, whose identity was not revealed, has been held by police for investigation.

The explosion occurred when a motorist started a car engine at the scene, igniting the leaking gas, the SAWS statement said, without saying if the motorist was among the victims.

Some rescuers and repairmen who had come to handle the gas leak may have died in the explosion, the headquarters said.


"The whole building shook for several seconds. Tables and closets turned over and window panes were shattered, " said a man surnamed Ding who lives on the 16th floor of a residential building within 200 meters from the explosion.

"It's was very frightening. I thought it was an earthquake and rushed down out of the building. Lots of people rushed outdoors," Ding said.

"Our homes were seriously damaged. The buildings have been deformed," said another resident surnamed Jia.

Buildings within a radius of 100 meters of the explosion were seriously damaged. A bus near the site was destroyed by fire. Buildings, which were being demolished before the explosion, collapsed from the force of the explosion. Nearby stores, restaurants, gas stations and other buildings were all damaged and have suspended service.

Hundreds of fire-fighters and rescuers are working at the site. The police have sealed off the site in case of further gas poisoning and explosions.

"The impact came from the front. Before I knew it, my head, nose and leg were injured," said a bus passenger surnamed Lin.

An elderly woman, surnamed Xu, was taking her grandson to a hospital by bus before the explosion.

"We saw thick smoke ahead of us and the air suddenly became hard to breathe," Xu said. She and other passengers on the bus escaped from the vehicle and ran from the fire.

Hardly had Xu and her grandson run 100 meters, the blast went off. "The impact put down everyone. My grandson wet his pants."
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