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. Death toll in China chemical plant blast rises to 20: state media

File image of Chinese chemical plant.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Aug 27, 2008
Twenty people have been confirmed dead after an explosion at a chemical plant in southern China that injured 60 others and forced the evacuation of more than 11,500 people, state media said Wednesday.

Rescuers found the last two bodies of employees at the plant in Yizhou city in Guangxi province on Wednesday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The initial explosion happened early on Tuesday, causing a huge fire, and subsequent blasts took place until early afternoon on the same day, Xinhua said.

The fire was put out on Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday afternoon, the 11,500 plant employees and neighbouring villagers that had been evacuated had returned home, according to the news agency.

The cause of the explosion has still not been determined, but the regional environmental protection department said the blast had not contaminated the air or the water, Xinhua reported.

The factory, owned by Guangxi Guangwei Chemical Co., produced substances used in paints, adhesives and coatings.

China's work safety record is appalling and tens of thousands of people die every year in mines, factories and on construction sites, according to official sources.

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