Chinese Chemical Plant Explosion Kills at Least 19

BEIJING — At least 19 people have been killed and a dozen injured after a chemical plant exploded in southwest China, engulfing the plant in flames and throwing a thick plume of smoke into the sky.

The explosion erupted in an industrial park in Jiangan County, Sichuan Province, at about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, the China News Service reported. Intense fires gutted a new-looking, three-story production building belonging to the Yibin Hengda Science and Technology Company, and windows of nearby buildings were shattered, a Sichuan news service said.

“I heard an enormous explosion, enormous, and felt tremors,” Liu Ping, an official in charge of the industrial park, told a Chinese news website. “We’re now checking DNA to confirm the list of fatalities.”

China’s grim record of accidents in factories and mines has improved in recent years, according to government statistics. They showed that 38,000 people died in work-related accidents last year, a fall of 12 percent from 2016.

Katrina Northrop contributed research.

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