Scores dead in huge factory explosion caused by dust in jiangsu-safety
Scores dead in huge factory explosion caused
by dust in Jiangsu
Scores killed and almost 200 injured in blast apparently caused by flammable metallic
dust in the air at car-wheel polishing plant
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 August, 2014, 11:33am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 11:24am
Smoke rises from the factory as workers gather outside in charred, tattered clothes following the explosion
yesterday. Photo: Imagine China
A total of 69 people were killed and almost 200 injured in a huge explosion at a Taiwanese-
owned factory in Jiangsu yesterday.
Initial investigations indicated that sparks had ignited dust at the car wheel polishing plant in
Kunshan, 50km west of Shanghai, at 7.37am, CCTV said. The factory is owned by the
Taiwanese company Zhongrong Plating, it said.
It broadcast images of black smoke billowing from the low-rise factory building, with the injured
lying on makeshift wooden beds and being loaded onto trucks and ambulances.
Watch: Scores dead and hundreds injured in Jiangsu factory explosion
"The scene is a mess, it's unrecognisable," one person claiming to be a witness wrote on Sina
President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang called for "all efforts" to be made in the rescue and
treatment of victims. Relevant authorities were urged to strengthen workplace safety standards.
Medical personnel transport
a victim at a hospital after the explosion. Photo: Reuters
Kunshan hospital staff said they had admitted more than a hundred victims, mostly suffering from
burns and smoke inhalation. They had requested help from major hospitals in Shanghai, and had
asked residents to donate blood at temporary collection points.
Zhongrong Plating employs 450 workers and counts General Motors and other US firms among
its clients. More than 200 employees were working overtime when the blast happened, Kunshan
authorities said. Police had detained five company executives, Xinhua reported.
The roof of the damaged
workshop in the aftermath of the explosion. Photo: AP
The cause of the explosion is still being investigated but an accumulation of flammable metallic
dust in the air may have come into contact with live sparks, the Kunshan government said. Such
explosions have become rare in modern factories equipped with ventilation systems.
"I find it hard to believe that so many lives were lost. This is an old industrial town. We have not
seen anything so deadly," said the owner of a restaurant near the scene of the disaster.
Photographers capture images of smoke emerging from the blast.
"It was not the kind of huge blast that shattered glasses or threw you off your bed. Many people
living nearby were not sure they had heard it."
A pharmacy worker who lived nearby did not hear the blast.
"I learned the news from my mobile phone. I went to the factory to see if I could help but the
police and government rescuers were already there keeping people away," he said, declining to
be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
"The factory seemed to be a mess inside, with lots of smoke, but almost everything outside
remained intact. The death toll was high probably because the destructive force was confined to
a narrow space."
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Deadly blast rocks
factory in Jiangsu
Dust build-up could have led to Jiangsu
factory disaster, says expert
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 5:57am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 9:41am
Ignition of accumulated dust may be the cause for the deadly explosion at a car parts factory in Jiangsu.
The deadly explosion at a car parts factory in Jiangsu could have been caused by the ignition of
accumulated dust although the mainland had safety standards aimed at preventing such
accidents, a work safety expert said.
Metallic dust would have been a "major" risk at the factory, which polished car wheels, Zhang
Xiaoliang, an associate professor of work safety engineering at the Shanghai Institute of
Technology, said in an interview onSina.com.cn.
"The explosion occurred in the polishing workshop. Polishing generates metallic dust, which is
extremely fine, sometimes smaller than one micrometre," he said.
Besides iron, other metals such as aluminium and magnesium could have been present. If mixed
together at a high enough concentration, a spark could trigger an explosion.
"The heat can reach 2,000-3,000 degrees Celsius, which is much hotter than ordinary fire,"
Zhang said. That could blow a building apart, collapse walls and seriously burn victims, he said.
Zhang said metallic dust may have fallen on the floor, which is why factories used air ventilation
or dust removal systems to avoid an accumulation.
While workers were probably aware of the danger the dust posed to bodily health, they might not
know it was also highly flammable, he said. The powder can be so fine that workers would not
see it, he added.
Zhang said the trigger for the explosion could have come from many sources, such as welding,
electronic devices or even a hammer dropping on the floor.
In May 2011, three people were killed in a dust-related blast at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu,
Zhang said the government had launched an effort to address dust explosion risk in 2012 but
accidents continued to happen.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Dust build-up
could have led to blast, says expert