Blast at Chinese Chemical Plant Kills 19

China chemical plant blast kills 19, injures 12

It comes amid a drive to strengthen industrial safety, with China ramping up checks over the previous year, in the wake of some high-profile incidents at coal mines and chemical plants. Police launched an investigation into the cause of the explosion set.

Nineteen people have been killed in an explosion at a chemical plant in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, local authorities said.

The blast occurred at the Yibin Hengda Technology Co., a chemical plant in an industrial park in the city of Yibin in Sichuan province at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Xinhua said.

Video footage and photos posted online show red flames and plumes of black smoke.

China chemical plant blast kills 19, injures 12
Nineteen killed in Chinese chemical plant blast

"I heard seven explosions in ten minutes", an eyewitness told domestic news agency Beijing News.

The building was owned by chemical manufacturer Hengda, which was "conducting illegal construction at the plant which had not passed safety and fire control checks", the official Xinhua news agency said late Friday, citing local authorities.

The reports say the fire continued to burn for about 5 hours and gutted 3 three-story buildings. The company makes chemicals for the food and pharmaceutical industries.

In 2015, 173 people died in an explosion at a chemical warehouse in the north-eastern port city of Tianjin.

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