News / Asia

Factory Blast in Eastern China Kills at Least 69

Medical personnel transport a victim (C) to a hospital after an explosion at a factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, China, Aug. 2, 2014.
Medical personnel transport a victim (C) to a hospital after an explosion at a factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, China, Aug. 2, 2014.

Related Articles

Reuters

China suffered its worst industrial accident in a year on Saturday when an explosion killed at least 69 people and injured more than 120 at a factory that makes wheels for U.S. carmakers, including General Motors.

The blast in the wealthy eastern province of Jiangsu occurred around 7:30 a.m. in Kunshan city, about an hour's drive from Shanghai, after an explosion ripped through a workshop that polishes wheel hubs.

A preliminary investigation suggested the blast at Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co Ltd. was triggered when a flame was lit in a dust-filled room, the local government said at a news conference, describing the incident as a serious safety breach.

State news agency Xinhua said two company representatives had been taken into police custody and that the death toll had risen to 69 by late Saturday.

Xinhua quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as demanding a full inquiry into the blast and saying those found responsible must be punished.

Survivors with charred skin were seen being wheeled into ambulances as residents recalled hearing the explosion from two kilometers away. At the site of the blast, television images

showed wrecked walls and heavy machinery that had been hurled through windows.

"We heard a really loud blast at about 7 a.m. this morning so we rushed out of our dormitories," said Zhou Xu, a 26-year-old working at a plant across the site.

"First the ambulance came, then as the news surfaced in the media, many families - especially the wives - rushed to the site to see if their husbands were okay."

A security guard from an adjacent factory, who declined to be named, said the impact from the explosion was so great that it shattered the windows of his guard house, located about 500 meters away from the site of the blast.

'80 percent burns'

Images online and on state television showed large plumes of black smoke billowing from a white low-rise building. Many of the injured, who appeared badly burnt in scorched clothing, were shown lying on wooden pallets, waiting to be stretchered on to trucks, public buses and ambulances.

Four emergency blood-donation centers were set up in the city to assist casualties, some of whom will be taken to Shanghai and other nearby cities for treatment later on Saturday, state television said.

Urged by President Xi to spare no efforts in the rescue works, Kunshan's government said it was bringing in doctors from Shanghai and other regions.

"In my 20 years of work, I've never seen so many patients with burns on over 80 percent of their bodies," a senior unnamed doctor was quoted as saying on the Weibo microblog account of China's CCTV.

The doctor said the final death toll could be "very high". China, the world's second-largest economy, has a poor record on workplace safety. Workers are often poorly trained or ill-equipped to protect themselves from industrial accidents.

By early afternoon, the police had cordoned off the aging factory and blocked media access to the local hospital.

Authorities had also cleaned up the factory's exterior. A crowd of bystanders and a row of fire-trucks parked in the compound were the only outward signs of the calamity that had occurred hours earlier.

Kunshan Zhongrong could not be reached for a comment. Its website said the firm is wholly owned by an unidentified foreign investor, employs 450 workers and counts General Motors and other U.S. companies as clients.

The Kunshan government said 264 workers were at the site when the explosion struck and 44 died immediately. Xinhua cited officials as saying that the number of injured totaled 187.

"Of course, the foreign owner of the company will shoulder the responsibility," said Duan Shenyi, a user of China's microblog Weibo said on Saturday. "But because we lack a workers' union, we do not have enough supervision of companies."

A fire at a poultry slaughterhouse in the northeast province of Jilin in June 2013 killed 120 people. The blaze was blamed on poor management, a lack of government oversight and locked or blocked exits.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More