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Blast at China Port Kills 2, Injures Dozens, Destroys Buildings


Debris is seen after an explosion in Ningbo City, in China's eastern Zhejiang province, in this image from a handout video obtained by Reuters, Nov. 26, 2017.

An explosion in a port city south of Shanghai on Sunday killed two people and injured at least 30 others as it knocked down buildings and left streets littered with damaged cars and debris, the government and news reports said.

The early morning explosion struck a riverfront neighborhood in Ningbo, one of China’s busiest ports, the official Xinhua News Agency and other outlets reported. Xinhua said it occurred at a factory, but a police statement said the cause was under investigation.

Two people were killed and two more seriously injured, the district office announced on its social media account. It gave no details of the deaths.

At least 30 others were taken to hospitals, according to Huanqiu.com, a website operated by the newspaper Global Times. It gave no details of their injuries.

History of fires, accidents

China has a long history of deadly fires and industrial accidents, often blamed on negligence. In 2015, a blast blamed on improperly stored chemicals killed at least 173 people in Tianjin, a port east of Beijing.

Authorities have launched repeated safety crackdowns, but the rapid evolution of industry and overhaul of urban neighborhoods lead companies to cut corners.

Sunday’s blast knocked down nearby residential buildings, but those were vacant and in the process of being demolished, Huanqiu.com said. It said there might have been people in the area collecting scrap for recycling.

Cause not yet known

Bystanders said the explosion might have been caused by a gas pipeline that was damaged during demolition work, but the Ningbo gas company said it had no lines in the area, the newspaper China Youth Daily reported on its website.

Photos on News.163.com showed an injured woman being carried away on a man’s back and what appeared to be the body of man lying in the debris of a wrecked building. A photo on news.ifeng.com showed a room in an industrial building with a floor-to-ceiling hole blown through an exterior wall.

Other photos showed apartments with windows blown out and glass littering the floors.

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