China chemical blast toll reaches 78

BEIJING • The death toll from a chemical plant explosion in China rose to 78 yesterday, as Beijing ordered a nationwide inspection of chemical firms four days after one of the country’s worst industrial accidents.

Last Thursday’s explosion in Yancheng city, eastern Jiangsu province, razed an industrial park and blew out the windows of surrounding homes.

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, told regional authorities around the country to launch a “comprehensive investigation” into companies involved in “nitration manufacturing and storage” in the wake of the blast.

They should also conduct risk assessments on chemical industrial parks, it said in an online statement, and identify and fix potential safety hazards in mining, fire, construction and other industries to prevent further accidents.

More than 500 people are still in hospital, said city officials in Yancheng on their official Twitter-like Weibo account. Among them, 13 are critically injured and 66 are seriously injured, the statement said.

Out of the 28 people who were reported as missing on Saturday, 25 have been found dead and three successfully rescued, said city officials.

The city government said some 89 houses were damaged beyond repair and families were resettled after those structures were demolished. Classes at 10 schools damaged by the blast resumed yesterday morning, they added.

Local authorities are investigating the cause of the accident and said an unspecified number of people were taken into police custody last Friday.

The facility involved in the explosion belonged to Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Co Ltd. — AFP