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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.