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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
China arrests 18 over fatal October blast
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 13, 2016


Chinese authorities have arrested 18 people in connection with a massive explosion that left 14 dead and injured 147 in October, local media reported Tuesday.

The powerful blast in Xinmin, in the northern province of Shaanxi, tore through five prefabricated buildings, destroying or damaging 58 others.

The suspects are believed to have used the buildings to illegally produce and store explosives, the official Xinhua news service said.

Following the blast, authorities quickly arrested three suspects, with police telling state broadcaster CCTV that they had "confessed" to the crime.

The incident came as China hosted a sensitive high-level meeting in Beijing to discuss tightening internal rules for the ruling Communist Party.

Online censorship of reports about the explosion during the meeting provoked widespread anger on social media, with users complaining that the government was hiding the true scale of the catastrophe.

Industrial accidents are common in China, where safety regulations are often flouted.

Giant explosions at a chemical storage facility in the northern port of Tianjin last year killed at least 165 people, sending a monumental fireball skyward and mangling structures kilometres away.


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