A huge explosion occurred around 6 a.m. on August 25 in a chemical plant in Guangxi province located in southern China. As of August 26, 16 people have been confirmed dead, 60 people have been hospitalized, and six are missing. Preliminary investigation shows that the accident was caused by negligence towards work safety.
The plant belongs to the Vinylon Group Limited Company, located in the suburbs of Yizhou city. It produces highly flammable and explosive products such as acetylene, ethylene, acetic acid, methyl alcohol, polyvinyl alcohol, etc. There are more than 6,000 employees who work there as well as family members who live on-site.
An eyewitness said that industrial chemicals such as those listed above are stored in the factory. Around 30 employees were working in the plant around the time the explosion occurred. The entire factory was ablaze after the explosion happened. According to a local resident, the huge explosion felt as if an earthquake happened.
Authorities dispatched 20 fire engines, nearly a thousand fire-fighters and two bulldozers to put out the fire. About 100 chemical safety treatment personnel were also dispatched to inspect and remove flammable and toxic items. The explosion produced a large volume of smoke, caused smaller intermittent explosions and caused a gas leakage which created more difficulties in the rescue effort.
Another eyewitness said that by 5:20 p.m. on August 26, the five story factory building had collapsed, leaving only rubble and thick smoke.
The leakage of poisonous gases such as ammonia, formaldehyde, as well as other chemicals caused by the explosion is a huge potential threat. As a result, approximately 11,500 local residents were evacuated from the outlying area.