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Jakarta Post

China car parts plant blast kills 69, hurts 187

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Beijing   /   Sun, August 3, 2014   /  12:07 pm

A suspected dust explosion at an automotive parts factory in eastern China that supplies General Motors killed at least 69 people and injured more than 180 others, most with severe burns, state media reported Sunday.

It was China's most serious industrial disaster since a fire at a poultry plant killed 119 people in June last year, and again highlighted workplace safety that remains a concern.

Saturday morning's explosion occurred when more than 200 workers were on the site of the factory, which is in an industrial zone in the city of Kunshan, officials from the city said at a news conference. Kunshan, in Jiangsu province, is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southeast of Beijing.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of large plumes of thick, black smoke rising from the plant, and news websites posted photos of the dead or injured lifted onto the back of large trucks, their bodies black, presumably from burns or soot.

Some survivors sat on wooden cargo platforms on the road outside the factory or being carried into ambulances, their clothes apparently burned off and their skin exposed.

The explosion occurred at 7:37 a.m. at a workshop in the factory, which polishes wheel hubs. Rescuers pulled out 44 bodies at the site, while 25 other people died at a hospital, officials said. At least 187 people were injured.

More than 120 of the injured were sent to hospitals in Kunshan and the nearby city of Suzhou. Burn experts from a Shanghai hospital arrived in Kunshan to help, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

A preliminary investigation showed that the blast was likely a dust explosion, Xinhua said.

A dust explosion is caused by the fast combustion of particles suspended in air in an enclosed space. The particles could include dust or powdered metals such as aluminum. They would have to come into contact with a spark, such as fire, an overheated surface or electrical discharge from machinery.

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