Factory explosion in China port injures 30, wrecks buildings

BEIJING

BEIJING (AP) — A factory explosion in a port south of Shanghai on Sunday injured at least 30 people, knocked down buildings and left streets littered with damaged cars and debris, news reports said. There was no immediate word of possible deaths or the severity of injuries.

The explosion at a factory in Ningbo, one of China’s busiest ports, struck a district on the Yong River at about 8:55 a.m., the official Xinhua News Agency and other outlets reported.

At least 30 injured were taken to hospitals, according to Huanqiu.com, a website operated by the newspaper Global Times.

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.

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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