The local government has called on citizens to stay clear of the site, saying they could disrupt emergency operations. China has been rocked by several deadly industrial accidents, sparking anger in affected communities.
An explosion at a chemical plant on Wednesday killed 22 people and injured 22 others in the city of Zhangjiakou, which is set to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
What we know so far:
- The blast occurred at a loading dock operated by the Hebei Shenghua Chemical Industry Co. Ltd.
- It set 50 vehicles ablaze, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
- The local government urged citizens to “not go to the site to watch,” saying it could disrupt emergency response efforts.
- Police have yet to determine the cause of the blast.
For years, China has been rocked by industrial accidents caused by loose enforcement of safety standards. In 2015, a massive explosion at a site in Tianjin killed more than 170 people. The blast was traced back to improperly stored chemicals.
Earlier this month, 52 people fell ill following a major chemical spill in Fujian province. The toxic chemical C9 leak occurred while workers were loading barrels onto a tanker.
With authorities wary of social unrest, Beijing has vowed to improve industrial safety standards and increase oversight. But environmentalists say little has changed and workers are still at risk.
“Tragic accidents occur on an almost daily basis,” said Greenpeace researcher Cheng Qian in a 2016 report. “The government must take urgent action to manage chemicals in a sound manner, provide a safety net for workers and citizens, and protect ecologically important areas across the country.”
ls/amp (Reuters, AP, AFP)