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Death toll climbs to 16 in China factory blast

(Xinhua)

13:32, February 29, 2012

SHIJIAZHUANG, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- The death toll in Tuesday's chemical plant explosion has climbed to 16, and 43 others were hospitalized with injures, authorities in north China's Hebei Province said.

The blast ripped through Hebei Keeperchemical Industries Co., Ltd in Zhaoxian county at around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. It flattened one of the factory's workshops and shattered window panes within a radius of 2,000 meters, witnesses and local government officials said.

Dozens more were feared missing or dead at the scene, according to Zhaoxian county's deputy chief Wu Haijiang.

Wu said about 100 people were at work when the blast happened. But the emergency rescue headquarters were forced to halt search and rescue Tuesday night, fearing further blasts might cause more fatalities, he said.

Rescue work resumed Wednesday morning.

The chemical plant was founded in 2005, with an investment of 217 million yuan (34.5 million U.S. dollars), the county government's press office said.

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