An explosion at an abandoned chemical factory in Nanjing city in eastern China killed at least six people and injured more than 300, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The blast at 10:10 a.m. local time today was sparked by a gas leak from a pipeline running through the factory, Xinhua said, citing local media that it didn’t identify. Buildings and vehicles within a 100-meter (109-yard) radius were badly damaged and at least 50 people were seriously hurt, Xinhua reported.
The explosion is the country’s third major industrial accident this month, following an acid leak from Zijin Mining Group Co.’s copper and gold mines into a river in the eastern province of Fujian and an oil spill in northeastern China that had shut beaches and a port. The walls and roof of the factory had collapsed and firefighters were trying to douse a fire, photographs on Xinhua’s website show.
The supply of gas feeding the ruptured pipeline has been cut, and the fire following the explosion is now under control, Xinhua said.
The air in the area still smells of gas, the State Administration of Work Safety said in its report, citing eye- witness accounts.
As far away as 1 kilometer from the blast site, broken glass bits were strewn along streets, according to a China National Radio reporter.
Most injuries were caused by shattered glass and fallen walls. A man among the six fatalities died in hospital after the ceiling of his home collapsed onto him, according to Xinhua.
Rescuers were still combing the rubble for signs of survivors, Xinhua said. Fifteen fire-fighting vehicles and 85 soldiers have been deployed in the area, according to the report.
Houses near the plant were “flattened,” according to a report on the website of the State Administration of Work Safety.
A gasoline service station operated by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. wasn’t “seriously” affected by the explosion, the company known as Sinopec said in an e-mailed statement. A pipeline at the factory owned by Jiangsu GPRO Group Co. had exploded, according to Sinopec.
Jiangsu GPRO is a privately held company based in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, involved in petrochemical production and property development, according to the company’s website.