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Death toll from China chemical plant blast rises to 78

Author: William Zheng, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Published on: 25 March 2019

The death toll from an explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China last week has risen to 78…The authorities said…that more than 600 people had been injured in the explosion at the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical plant on Thursday. The death toll makes the incident the deadliest industrial accident in the country since the 2015 explosions in Tianjin, which claimed 173 lives.

Although police have detained Tianjiayi Chemical’s key executives, observers believe Beijing will also take action against officials who are partially responsible for the accident…An investigation team from the State Council, China’s cabinet, made a preliminary conclusion on the nature of the accident on Saturday, blaming local officials who “are ignorant of their work” for allowing the company to continue its operations despite multiple safety violations. The State Council has also ordered nationwide inspections to identify and rectify dangers in chemical factories.

…Tests by the local department of the environment on Friday found that three rivers that flow through the industrial park had been contaminated with dichloroethane and dichloromethane…The blast also forced some 3,000 people - both residents and factory workers - to be evacuated from their homes and workplaces. According to state news agency Xinhua, 10 schools temporarily closed by the blast had reopened on Monday, after repairs to shattered doors and windows.

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