38 killed in central China fire

Thirty-eight people were killed and two were injured after a fire at a plant in central China, state media said Tuesday, citing local authorities.

The fire broke out at a plant in Anyang City in Henan Province on Monday afternoon, news agency Xinhua reported.

State media said rescue services first received reports of a fire at 4:22 pm (0822 GMT) at Kaixinda Trading Co., Ltd.

"After receiving the alarm, the municipal fire rescue detachment immediately dispatched forces to the scene," CCTV reported.

"Public security, emergency response, municipal administration, and power supply units rushed to the scene at the same time to carry out emergency handling and rescue work," it said, adding the fire was extinguished by around 11 pm local time.

Footage from the scene shared by state media showed thick plumes of black smoke from the fire, with at least two trucks in position to battle the flames.

Another video showed the charred hull of the building after the fire was extinguished.

In addition to the dead, two were sent to hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, the state-run People's Daily said.

Authorities said "criminal suspects" had been taken into custody in connection with the fire, but did not provide further details.

No reason has been given for the cause of the blaze.

- Weak safety standards -

Industrial accidents are common in China due to weak safety standards and corruption among officials tasked with enforcing them.

News of the Anyang City fire followed reports of an explosion at a chemical factory in nearby Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, on Monday.

Videos posted on social media showed a fire at the industrial site spewing dense grey smoke into the sky.

Other images showed nearby buildings strewn with shards of glass and frightened locals fleeing the blast.

"Personnel were dispatched to the scene, the fire was extinguished, and the human toll is not yet known," Dahebao -- an official daily based out of neighbouring Henan -- reported on the Twitter-like Weibo platform, citing authorities.

In June, one person was killed and another injured in an explosion at a chemical plant in Shanghai.

The fire at a Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. plant in the outlying Jinshan district sent thick clouds of smoke over a vast industrial zone as three fires blazed in separate locations, turning the sky black.

And last year, a gas blast killed 25 people and reduced several buildings to rubble in the central city of Shiyan.

In March 2019, an explosion at a chemical factory in Yancheng, located 260 kilometres (161 miles) from Shanghai, killed 78 people and devastated homes in a several-kilometre radius.

Four years prior, a giant explosion in northern Tianjin at a chemical warehouse killed 165 people, in one of China's worst-ever industrial accidents.

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