Death toll soars in China chemical blast

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The death toll in a huge blast at a chemical plant in eastern China has jumped to 44, with 90 more injured, state media say.

The blast took place at about 14:50 local time (06:50 GMT) on Thursday at a plant in Yancheng run by Tianjiayi Chemical.

The explosion followed a fire at the factory, which makes fertiliser.

China’s earthquake administration reported a tremor equivalent to 2.2-magnitude at the time of the blast.

Images on social media showed a fireball exploding at the site, billowing clouds enveloping the area, injured people and damage to buildings.

The blast was so powerful that it knocked down factory buildings, trapping workers, according to local media.

Staff at the Henglida Chemical Factory, 3km (1.8 miles) from the explosion, said its roof collapsed as they fled, and windows and doors were blown out.

Provincial authorities said firefighters had to be brought in from across the province.

The fire was brought under control at around 0300 local time on Friday, state TV reported.

Industrial accidents ranging from factory fires to mining disasters are common in China, often due to poorly enforced safety standards.

More than 160 people died in 2015 after two massive explosions in the port of Tianjin in northern China.

The exact cause of the Tianjiayi Chemical explosion remains under investigation. The company, founded in 2007, has received six government penalties in the past over waste management and air pollution, according to the South China Morning Post.

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