China to close industrial park where deadly blast killed 78

Photo: Reuters

The Chinese chemical industry park where an explosion last month killed 78 people and left hundreds injured will be closed, authorities have said.

The blast in Yancheng city, eastern Jiangsu province, was one of the worst industrial accidents in the country in recent years, razing buildings nearby and blowing out the windows of surrounding homes. Authorities evacuated thousands of residents.

The decision to close the Xiangshui Chemical Industry Park was made Thursday by the local government, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Friday.

Jiangsu province will also begin closing chemical plants, with the number of producers to be cut roughly in half by 2020, news site The Paper reported.

Local authorities said Tuesday 187 people hurt in the blast remained in hospital with two in critical condition.

Three employees from the firm Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical, whose facility was involved in the blast, have been detained by police.

They bore "significant responsibility" for the accident, according to a statement on the Yancheng government's official Twitter-like Weibo account.

The company, with 195 employees, was established in 2007 and mainly produced raw chemical materials including anisole, a highly flammable compound.

It had a history of violating environmental regulations, according to online records from Yancheng city's environment and ecology bureau.

Deadly industrial accidents are common in China, where safety regulations are often poorly enforced.

In November, a gas leak at a plant in the northern Chinese city of Zhangjiakou - which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics - killed 24 people and injured 21 others.

In 2015, China saw one of its worst industrial accidents when giant chemical blasts in the northern port city of Tianjin killed at least 165 people.

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