Act of God or Industrial Negligence?

09 May 2001
Officials from Qiuchang county in Guangdong province claimed that a freak lightening strike caused an explosion at a chemical factory near the city of Huiyang. However, workers injured in the accident insisted it was an industrial accident and that a huge explosion had followed three smaller explosions. Reports said that between three and five workers were killed in the explosion and at least 13 people were injured.

The Yuan Xiang Chemical Factory produces highly toxic chemical hardening agents and is owned by a Taiwanese investor. According to eyewitnesses, the explosion took place at about five o’clock in the morning, creating a ten metre-high mushroom cloud. The two-story factory collapsed with a loud crash leaving just a partially destroyed wall in place. A fire broke out, turning the remains of the site into ashes. Stops and buildings within one hundred metres of the explosion were damaged and one store was razed to the ground.

According to a worker injured in the explosion, 19 workers were on shift at the time of the accident, all migrant workers from the provinces of Hunan and Hubei. He said that a fire broke out 20 minutes after the three minor explosions, followed by a huge blast. Two workers were killed immediately, two more died on the way to hospital and a fifth died in hospital.

(HK: Ming pao, Dongfang Ripao 09/05/01)
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