On September 16 and 18, a series of explosions occurred in Puyang County, Henan Province. Eyewitnesses say that at least 100 were injured or killed in the September 16 explosions, and dozens were injured or killed in the September 18 explosion.
Authorities have heavily censored the news; Internet posts on the explosions were quickly removed.
At about 4:10 a.m. on September 16, an explosion occurred at a large fireworks storage facility in Puyang, which led to an explosion at another nearby storage site. The fireworks factory was reduced to two craters measuring approximately 19 feet deep and 190 feet wide.
Nearby Xutikou Village was almost completely destroyed. More than 100 houses collapsed, and over 100 people were injured or killed. All houses within approximately one mile suffered damage. All crops within two-thirds of a mile were destroyed.
Local residents say that from the incident until the next evening, sirens from fire trucks and police vehicles blared continuously. Over a dozen ambulances were busy transporting people to the hospital.
Even apartments in Puyang City, located approximately 12 miles away, were shaken. A resident of Puyang surnamed Wang said, “It sounded like an atomic bomb. The glass in our windows was broken. I thought it was an earthquake and ran outside. Then there was a huge bang. I thought a war broke out, so I ran inside. I heard that many houses in nearby villages fell.”
A villager surnamed Huang said, “The explosions happened near the Wangzhu Fee Station. The entire village is destroyed. Roofs of houses were gone. Metal debris, trash, and broken bricks were everywhere. Some say 30 people were killed; others say 50. At least 100 were injured, and some were buried in the ground.”
At about 8 p.m. on September 18, a liquid gas tank vehicle located east of the general oil field station exploded. Dozens were injured. The flames turned the sky red, and were not abated until the next morning. Fire engines, ambulances, and police vehicles were heard continuously until the next afternoon. Nearby streets were closed for two days.
The suspected cause was an operational error that occurred during an illegal transfer of liquid gas. The owner and driver of the vehicle have fled.
Media Play Down Incident
Villagers say all Internet posts about the explosion were removed. The Puyang Television Station reported that one person was killed and 17 were injured. Puyang Daily said that one was killed and six were injured.
A villager said, “These media are obviously lying. The real death toll was probably between 30 and 50. More than 100 were injured. When such a serious accident happens, no officials stepped forward to take responsibility. They are still trying to hide it and deceive the public. If there is a huge public outcry, they will find some low-level official to be their scapegoat.”
According to the villagers, Xiaoti Village is known for its fireworks. At least 200 families are engaged in and rely on fireworks production. Driven by revenue, the local government has approved some factories that did not have production permits. These factories only have temporary structures and produce firecrackers and fireworks in violation of the regulations. Many are public safety hazards.
A villager said, “Puyang County is still in poverty, yet in the last several years, the county government has built several luxury office buildings and [the officials] purchased high-end residences. The officials are only concerned with their own enjoyment, and don't care at all about the life and safety of the common people.”