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Explosion Rocks Industrial Zone in Eastern China

HONG KONG – An explosion Thursday afternoon at a chemical plant in eastern China killed at least six people, the local government said.

The blast occurred in Xiangshui County in Jiangsu Province. The China Earthquake Administration reported a magnitude 2.2 earthquake at 2:48 p.m.

At least 30 people were seriously injured in the explosion at the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Co., the Yancheng City government, which reviewed Xiangshui County, said in a statement. Videos circulating online showed people who had been cut by glass and other debris.

The plant mainly produces pesticides, according to online listings. The State Administration of Work Safety listed 1

3 safety problems at the plant after inspection last year, including a lack of safety training among management.

Jiangsu is at the far the Chinese province with the greatest production of agricultural chemicals. Over the past year, it has also been at the center of a controversy over how China should regulate chemicals production.

Jiangsu Province, with some support from Beijing, has pressed for each chemical factory to reduce its pollution by a significant percentage from previous levels. That would allow some small, local companies with extremely high levels of pollution to install more modern equipment. But it would tend to penalize multinational corporations that fit identical, fairly clean factories all over the world and would face very high investment costs to try to reduce their emissions much further.

Environmentalists and large companies have tended to favor the setting of low levels of maximum pollution that no factory would be allowed to exceed. But that approach could put older, local factories at a significant disadvantage.

China has seen a series of large explosions at chemical plants in recent years. Blasts in the northeastern city of Tianjin in 2013 killed 173 people, who were affected by weak regulations and haphazard management of explosive materials.

At least 23 people were killed in an explosion near a chemical plant in Hebei Province last year.

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