Explosion in Chinese factory kills over 60

President Xi demands investigation into country’s worst industrial accident in over a year

People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of a factory explosion in Kunshan, Jiangsu province REUTERS

People attend a candlelight vigil for victims of a factory explosion in Kunshan, Jiangsu province REUTERS

Mon, Aug 4, 2014, 01:01

China’s president Xi Jinping has demanded an investigation into a factory explosion that killed at least 69 people and injured up to 187 in the country’s worst industrial accident in more than a year.

The blast ripped through a car parts factory in eastern China on Saturday, apparently when a flame was lit in a dust filled room in the plant, located in an industrial zone in the city of Kunshan, about 1,000km south of Beijing.

The factory is operated by the Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Company, which electroplates aluminium alloy wheel hubs for auto companies, including carmaker General Motors.

Mr Xi called for an inquiry into the circumstances of the accident and vowed to punish those responsible.

More than 200 people were thought to be working in the factory when the inferno tore through the complex. State television news showed footage of plumes of thick, black smoke rising from the plant, and news websites posted pictures of the dead or injured, many with horrific burns. Many of the injured were shown lying on wooden pallets, waiting to be stretchered on to trucks, public buses and ambulances.

A preliminary investigation is focusing on negligence. Safety can be a big problem at factories across China, where workers are often poorly trained and employers frequently cut corners on accident prevention measures. Police took away five Zhongrong executives to assist in the inquiry, officials said, according to Associated Press.

In June 2013, 119 workers were killed when a fire raced through a chicken processing room at a poultry plant in the northern province of Jilin. The fire appeared to have been sparked by an explosion caused by leaking ammonia, officials said. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014)