August 29, 2008
20 Confirmed Dead in South China Chemical Plant Blast
20 confirmed dead in south China chemical plant blast
YIZHOU, Guangxi, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Twenty people were confirmed dead from Tuesday's explosion at a chemical plant in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, rescue headquarters said on Wednesday.
At 4:30 p.m., rescuers found the last two bodies of the 20 listed missing after the explosion. All were plant employees in Yizhou City.
Around 470 special rescue personnel left the scene after the rescue operation ended. All the 11,000 evacuated company staff and nearby villagers returned to their homes on Wednesday afternoon.
The initial explosion ripped through an organic compound workshop inside the plant, owned by Guangxi Guangwei Chemical Co., at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. The cause of the explosion still hasn't been determined.
The blast caused additional explosions in containers of flammable substances such as formaldehyde and acetylene.
A tally compiled as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday showed that 60 people were injured and hospitalized, with 10 discharged so far. Five of these people were residents of a nearby village or motor vehicles riders who were passing the factory. The injured mostly suffered burns and fractures.
The explosions persisted until almost 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The fire at one point covered 10,000 sq m, said a firefighter who took part in the rescue operation. The blaze was put out on Tuesday evening.
The regional Department of Environmental Protection said that samples taken after the explosion showed no contamination.
More than 100 chemical emergency specialists were sent to the site to assess the situation, and regional work safety authorities began an investigation.
The plant mainly produces polyvinyl acetate (PVA), which is used in adhesives, calcium carbide, and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), which is used in paints, adhesives and coatings.
With assets of 340 million yuan (50 million U.S. dollars), the plant manufactures products worth about 300 million yuan a year, and its largest shareholders are state-owned companies.
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