Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Blast kills 22 outside China chemical factory

Blast kills 22 outside China chemical factory

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A VEHICLE carrying dangerous chemicals exploded at the entrance of a chemical factory in a northern Chinese city. AFP

Blast kills 22 outside China chemical factory

A VEHICLE carrying dangerous chemicals exploded at the entrance of a chemical factory in a northern Chinese city that will host the 2022 Winter Olympics on Wednesday, leaving 22 people dead and 22 others injured, state media and authorities said.

The blast ignited other vehicles, leaving charred and smoking remains of trucks and cars scattered on a road as firefighters worked at the scene, according to images posted online by state media.

A witness said he heard a “very loud bang” after midnight and saw a field and trucks engulfed in flames outside the Hebei Shenghua Chemical Co factory in Zhangjiakou, a city some 200km northwest of Beijing.

The side of a building was covered in soot in front of a row of burnt out trucks across the road, footage broadcast by CCTV showed following the latest deadly incident to hit a factory in China.

The blast damaged 38 trucks and 12 cars, the local propaganda department said on its Twitter-like Weibo social media account.

The injured were taken to hospitals for treatment following the blast at 00:41am (11:41pm in Cambodia), according to the department.

The factory’s and exterior archway were blackened. Across from the blast, reporters saw a field of blackened grass and trees, with smoke billowing from the embers. Heavy machinery was brought in to remove debris.

According to a preliminary investigation, a vehicle carrying dangerous chemicals blew up while waiting to enter the plant, igniting nearby vehicles, according to the official Xinhua news agency. CCTV described the vehicle as a tanker.

Rescue efforts and the investigation are still underway, Xinhua said.

‘A fireball’

“It was after midnight when I put down my phone to go to bed when I heard a very loud bang, followed by a few more,” said a man named Zhang who works in another chemical factory some 200m away from the blast site.

“There was a shaking and two pieces of the ceiling fell. I thought it was an earthquake so I hid under a bed for a while,” he said.

“When I looked out of the window I saw a large fireball sweep across the area,” said Zhang, whose car was singed.

He awoke others in his dormitory and they ran to safety.

“Even the grass outside our factory was on fire, so we quickly put it out,” he said.

Beijing is hosting the 2022 Winter Games, with some of the mountain sport competitions taking place on the outskirts of Zhangjiakou.

The explosion occurred in the city’s Qiaodong district. Snowboard, cross-country skiing and freestyle skiing events will be held some 45 minutes away in Chongli.

Road and industrial accidents are common in China.

A blast at a chemical plant in southwest Sichuan province left 19 dead and 12 injured in July. The company had undertaken illegal construction that had not passed safety checks, according to local authorities.

In 2015, giant chemical blasts in a container storage facility killed at least 165 people in the northern port city of Tianjin.

The explosions caused more than $1 billion in damage and sparked widespread anger at a perceived lack of transparency over the accident’s causes and its environmental impact.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post

  • Residence cards set for over 80,000 immigrants

    The Ministry of Interior plans to grant residence cards to more than 80,000 immigrants to better keep track of them. The ministry announced the plan on July 10, following the results of an immigration census. “An inter-ministerial committee and many operational working groups have been set up

  • Fifteen Cambodians from Saudi get Covid-19

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed 15 more imported cases of Covid. The 15 men ‒ all Cambodian aged 21 to 33 ‒ arrived from Saudi Arabia on Friday via a connecting flight in Malaysia. They were travelling with 79 other passengers, three of them women. The ministry said 80 of the

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Vietnamese workers in Koh Kong questioned

    The General Department of Immigration (GDI) is questioning 49 Vietnamese nationals who were working illegally in Koh Kong province to build a case and send them back to Vietnam, its Department of Investigation and Procedure director Kem Sarin said on Thursday. GDI forces and provincial authorities

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism