An explosion occurred at a chemical plant in China’s eastern province of Shandong Saturday night, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
The People’s Daily China reports that the explosion, triggered by a fire that started at about 8:50 p.m., occurred at a warehouse owned by the Runxing Chemical Company — a subsidiary of Runxing Group in the Huantai county of Shandong province.
The warehouse is located about one kilometer from a residential area, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Reuters reports that seven brigades of fire fighters — about 150 firefighters and 20 fire engines — struggled to contain the inferno.
The blast of the explosion was so powerful that tremors were felt within a two-kilometer radius of the blast site, BBC News reports.
According to the Russian TASS news agency, some local media reports said the tremor was felt as far as five kilometers (3.1 miles) from the site.
Nine people were injured in the blast, local media reports said.
Local authorities have ordered evacuation of people in residential areas near the site. The warehouse involved in the explosion reportedly stored a chemical called Adiponitriel, a colorless liquid used in the manufacture of nylon, according to the Beijing Times.
The chemical is very harmful to the human skin. It releases poisonous gases when ignited by flames.
BBC News notes that the proximity of chemical plants to residential areas in China has always been a subject of controversy. Operators violate the official regulation that sets a minimum distance of one kilometer between storage sites for hazardous industrial chemicals and public buildings, residential areas, and transport networks.
For instance, the site of the warehouse involved in the recent Tinajin explosion was less than one kilometer from three large residential areas.
Operators of the storage facility involved in last week’s deadly Tianjin explosions, in which more than 100 people were killed and about 700 injured, are being investigated for storing hazardous chemicals — including toxic sodium cyanide — close to residential areas and in amounts beyond the legal limit.
The authorities have reportedly begun a crackdown on chemical storage facilities located close to residential facilities.
Reuters reports that the authorities have ordered shutdown of more than 100 chemical storage sites due to violations of safety regulations.
[Images: Twitter/People’s Daily China; Twitter/CCTV News; via RT]