At least five people are dead and eight others are missing after a massive explosion at a chemical plant in northeastern China, according to the country’s state TV.
The explosion occurred at 3.13pm local time (7.13am GMT) on Sunday just outside the city of Panj in Liaoning Province, east of Beijing.
According to an initial report by state TV, another 30 people were injured.
The explosion reportedly occurred at a plant operated by Haoye Chemical Co., Ltd. while workers were carrying out maintenance work.
Officials say that the investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing.
According to China-based trade sources, the company has shut down its entire oil refinery and chemical complex and the shutdown could last for months.
Footage released by local media showed flames and thick black smoke billowing from chemical processing machinery, pipes and storage containers.
According to the Panshan County government, fire crews have brought the blaze under control, while air quality in the area is being monitored.
People posting on social media said they felt the shocks of the explosion but the damage did not appear to extend beyond the plant.
Andalus University associate professor, Benny Dweka Levanda, posted several clips of the explosion on Twitter, taken by the Xingjing Bao newspaper.
Since he posted the footage, the death toll has risen from two initial deaths to at least five.
Last year, Panjin Haoye was among three independent refineries named by the Liaoning provincial government to avoid fuel taxes amid a national ban to stabilize its refining sector.
The latest fatal industrial incident in China
This type of incident is not isolated, China has suffered numerous fatal industrial accidents in the past.
In 2015, an explosion at a chemical warehouse in the northern port of Tianjin killed 173 people, most of them members of the emergency services.
Since then, the central government has promised stronger security measures after several local officials were accused of taking bribes to overlook security breaches.
Another incident 2019, at the Tianjia Chemical Plant in Yancheng, Jiangsu ProvinceIn which 47 people died and hundreds were injured.
The Yangcheng city government said at the time that about 1,000 people living near the factory were evacuated as a precaution against leaks and additional explosions.
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