China: Multiple deaths in chemical plant blast


Authorities in southwestern Sichuan province have opened an investigation into a blast at an industrial complex that left 19 people dead, state news agency Xinhua reported Friday.
The explosion ripped through the Yibin Hengda Technology complex in the city of Yibin at 6:30 p.m. (1030 UTC) Thursday, sparking a fire that burned late into the night, Xinhua said.
County officials said that 12 people wounded in the blast had been taken to hospital and were in a stable condition.

Reports in the Sichuan Daily said the force of the explosion reduced three buildings to their steel frames and shattered the windows of nearby properties.
Firefighters spray water onto a burnt building
Firefighters mop up at the site of the Yibin chemical plant explosion
Lax regulations
China, the world's largest producer of chemicals, has sought to improve industrial safety standards following a series of high-profile accidents in recent years.
In 2015, 165 people were killed in a blast at a chemical warehouse in the northern port city of Tianjin. Last year, an explosion at a petrochemical plant in eastern Shandong province killed eight people.

The Yibin Hengda Technology plant, where Thursday's blast occurred, produces chemicals for the food and pharmaceutical industries.