The Tianjiayi Chemical plant explosion has killed 64 people and injured more than 600 others, including children from nearby schools, according to China’s state media.
The tragic incident occurred on Thursday before 3 p.m. when the pesticide plant, owned by Tianjiayi Chemical Company in the city of Yancheng, exploded and caused fire to spread to neighboring factories, according to Reuters.
A recent casualty report released by state media said 64 people were killed in the explosion and over 640 people were injured, with 34 of them in critical condition. Nearly 3,000 people have been evacuated from the area as a result. Survivors of the accident were taken to 16 different hospitals for treatment. The China Earthquake Administration reported that they detected a 2.2 magnitude earthquake and believed that this may have originated from the blast.
“Workers were trapped after buildings were knocked down by the shock wave, which also shattered windows of nearby homes,” Xinhua, China’s state-run media organization, reported via the South China Morning Post. “Witnesses said many workers were seen running out of the factory covered in blood after the blast.”
Windows from nearby residential buildings were shattered. Dozens of cars parked nearby were also badly damaged. Yancheng’s educational bureau said that children were among those injured in the explosion, as an online map of the area revealed that there are at least 10 schools located within the 5 kilometer radius where the explosion occurred.
ThePaper.cn, a Shanghai-based news outlet, reported that 176 firetrucks and 928 firefighters were at the scene of the explosion. The fire was finally brought under control at 3 a.m. on Friday.
It was still unclear what caused the pesticide plant to explode, but the company behind the operation had been cited and fined in the past for violating several work safety protocols. However, during official investigations, there had been no abnormal concentrations of toluene, xylene or benzene found in the plant. Outside of the perimeters, concentrations of acetone and chloroform were also within the normal limit.
“There has recently been a series of major accidents, and all places and relevant departments must fully learn the lessons from these,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said from Italy, adding that he had ordered for an all-out effort to care for those who were injured in the accident and to “earnestly maintain social stability.”