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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 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.

VOA Blogs

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