After an explosion in Nanjing, China, last week, officials tried to cover up the scale of the disaster. Several eye witnesses and initial media reports gave death tolls significantly higher than those given by officials, while local media was prevented from reporting on the explosion. Western media adopted the line taken by Chinese state media in its reports of the incident.
“As if being hit by a missile in war time” was the analogy a resident used to describe the powerful explosion that rocked Nanjing on July 28. Armed police blocked the site immediately after the explosion, and the Nanjing municipal government convened a press conference to declare that the blast was due to a combustible gas (propylene) leak that occurred in the Nanjing Fourth Plastics Plant, a facility no longer in use.
At the press conference it was said that a massive fire had broken out. Thirteen people were said to have died with 120 being injured, 14 of who were in critical condition; 4,300 households were said to be damaged.
Questions from the public quickly arose, registered in conversations and on blogs, such as why live TV coverage was banned at the site; why the location of the explosion was said to be a plastics plant by some, a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) factory by others, and a chemical plant by yet others; and why was there an air of secrecy surrounding the number killed.
‘170 People Died’
Soufun.com first reported that the explosion occurred at an LPG factory in Maigaoqiao, a suburb in the Qixia District of Nanjing, on the afternoon of July 28, and that 79 people had been killed. After that, several other Chinese media published similar reports.
The first eyewitness to report the incident was Chen Guangbiao, an entrepreneur and noted philanthropist. He told Wenzhou Net on the afternoon of July 28, “There were two bigger explosions. After the biggest one, people nearby all had tinnitus [ringing in the ears] for a short while.”
He also told Shanghai TV: “I’m not exactly sure how many people were killed, but more than 100 bodies were carried out.”
The Epoch Times managed to contact a man who accompanied his relative to the hospital. "I was an eyewitness. More than 170 people died at the scene. The hospital is full, but the government is afraid to report it. My relative was hit by glass pieces in the face. A kindhearted person drove us to Maigaoqiao Hospital. There were too many people and not enough doctors; I kept hearing doctors yell, 'This one won't make it, that one won't make it.'"
A doctor disclosed that the mayor had insisted that the injured could not be reported dead until three days after being hospitalized: by then the deaths would be counted as a result of the wounds rather than the accident.
Several Nanjing residents told The Epoch Times that at least 100 people had been burned to death by the LPG explosion
These accounts differed from the official report, which claimed that only 13 were killed, and gave no mention of the explosion occurring in an old LPG factory. State media had reported that a propylene pipe was damaged during the demolition of a plastic plant, and that the leaking propylene was ignited when a privately-owned car started nearby, at 10:15 a.m.
Continued on the next page…