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Zhangzhou chemical plant in eastern China explodes for second time in two years

Zhangzhou chemical plant in eastern China explodes for second time in two years

Resident in county about 10km away says he felt his flat shake from the blast

 Plumes of smoke billow from the stricken plant. Photo: Xinhua

A paraxylene plant exploded for the second time in two years in China’s Fujian province on Monday evening, with the number of casualties still unknown.

Residents in Zhangzhou posted photos online of the explosion, showing the plant engulfed in fire and a mushroom-shaped cloud of thick smoke rising from the building.

The local fire department said it sent 78 vehicles and 430 firefighters to the scene after receiving a report close to 7pm.

Lin Chen, a resident of Liuao county, which is across a harbour from the paraxylene plant, told the South China Morning Post that his flat shook during the explosion. Liuao is about 10 kilometres from the factory in Zhangpu county’s Gulei township.

Residents from a neighbouring county witnessed the factory blast from across a harbour. Photo: Lin Chen

Lin said that when he raced to the rooftop of his bulding to see what was happening, he saw huge flames light up the sky.

“I heard a loud ‘bang’ at home and my flat shook. Everyone in my county saw it. The plant was burning,” Lin told the Post over the phone at about 8pm. “We can still see it. But I don’t smell anything weird now. I think it’s because we’re upwind.”

Lin said there were still people who lived near the factory although many had moved away since the first explosion about two years ago. The paraxylene plant last exploded in July 2013. No casualties or toxic leaks were reported in that incident.

Licking flames and thick smoke engulfed the area around the paraxylene plant. Photo: Lin ChenParaxylene – a chemical used in manufacturing polyester clothing and plastic bottles – is dangerous if inhaled or absorbed through the skin, and can damage abdominal organs and the nervous system. China is the world’s largest paraxylene producer and consumer.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 April, 2015, 9:29pm

UPDATED : Monday, 06 April, 2015, 10:41pm


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