A blast in an industrial park in a southwestern province has killed 19 people and injured 12 others, China's official Xinhua News Agency said on Friday.
The explosion happened at 6.30pm on Thursday in an industrial zone in Jiangan county, according to a statement issued by the Sichuan Industry Safety Supervision Administration.
China has been kicked off measures to improve industrial safety, ramping up checks over the past year, following some high-profile incidents at coal mines and chemical plants.
The fire has since been extinguished, however, authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the explosion. "It took a couple dozen firefighter trucks to put out the fire".
The building was owned by chemical manufacturer Hengda, which was "conducting illegal construction at the plant which had not passed safety and fire control checks", the official Xinhua news agency said late Friday, citing local authorities. The company makes chemicals for the food and pharmaceutical industries. China is known to have reoccurring chemical plant explosions.
According to local media reports, the three-storey buildings of the factory burnt down to their steel frames and nearby buildings had their windows shattered.
The plant has three production lines, making 300 tons per year (tpy) of benzoic acid, which is used in food preservatives, and 2,000 tpy of 5-nitroisophthalic acid, for medicines and dyes, the regional environmental protection bureau says.
China has been rocked by several industrial accidents in recent years.
In 2015, giant chemical blasts in a container storage facility killed at least 165 people in the northern port city of Tianjin.
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