Death Toll in Qinghuangdao Starch Factory Explosion Rises

By Fang Xiao, Epoch Times
February 26, 2010 1:39 am Last Updated: February 26, 2010 1:40 am

At least 19 deaths and 49 injuries are being reported by official media following an explosion at a starch company in Qinghuangdao, Hebei Province. The explosion was apparently caused by dust. The work safety manager and workshop leader have been taken into custody by the Public Safety Department.

The explosion occurred on Feb. 24 at the Lihua Starch Company located in FuNing County. The Hebei Provincial Government has set up an investigative group and a command post to work at the scene of the accident. Both FuNing County and Qinghuangdao City have appointed staff to conduct their own investigations.

Authorities have sent the bodies directly to the crematorium and would not let the families enter the scene. The government asked all employees to turn off their cell phones. By 11 p.m. on Feb. 24, the scene was cleaned up.

A company employee who was reached by The Epoch Times reporter refused to answer questions.
Another worker told the reporter that they do not know the number of dead or injured, as they, too, get their information from official reports.

A former company staff said he heard that the son of one of his neighbor’s had died, and that there appear to have been 20 deaths. One of those was a new employee on his first day of work. The body has not been found, he said, and was most likely blown up in the explosion.

According to official media, the company is a major starch manufacturer with the highest combined productivity and profit in the starch industry in China. The company has 3,300 employees and one billion yuan (~US$150 million) in total assets.

Read the original Chinese story