Death toll from China pesticide plant blast rises to 78

The explosion happened on Thursday in Chenjiagang Industrial Park in Yancheng city. (AFP)
Updated 25 March 2019

Death toll from China pesticide plant blast rises to 78

  • Chinese TV said 566 injured people are receiving treatment in the hospital
  • Officials said they will increase controls and risk assessments of chemical industry parks

BEIJING: The death toll from a massive explosion last week at a pesticide plant in eastern China rose to 78 on Monday, with 13 people listed as being critically injured, as the government again pledged stricter safely controls, state media reported.
Public anger over safety standards has grown in China over industrial accidents, ranging from mining disasters to factory fires, that have marred three decades of swift economic growth.
State television said 566 people were still being treated in hospital after Thursday’s blast at the Chenjiagang Industrial Park in Yancheng city, Jiangsu province on China’s east coast.
Air quality remained within a safe range, the report added.
The official Xinhua news agency said China would strengthen the control and management of dangerous chemicals, and conduct risk assessments for all chemical industry parks.
“Authorities at all levels should inspect enterprises that are involved in nitration manufacturing and storage to make sure they comply with regulations on dangerous chemicals,” Xinhua said, citing a statement from the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Despite repeated government pledges to tighten safety, disasters have hit chemical plants in particular, with 23 people killed in November in a series of blasts during the delivery of a flammable gas at a chemical maker.
In 2015, 165 people were killed in explosions at a chemical warehouse in the northern city of Tianjin, one of the world’s busiest ports, which is not far from the capital, Beijing.


Hong Kong protesters sing ‘God Save the Queen’ in plea to former colonial power

Updated 47 min 33 sec ago

Hong Kong protesters sing ‘God Save the Queen’ in plea to former colonial power

  • The Chinese-ruled territory has been rocked by weeks of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests
  • Demonstrators angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in their city’s affairs despite a promise of autonomy

HONG KONG: Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters singing “God Save the Queen” and waving Union Jack flags rallied outside the British Consulate on Sunday demanding that the former colonial power ensures China honors its commitments to the city’s freedoms.
The Chinese-ruled territory has been rocked by weeks of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests, with demonstrators angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in their city’s affairs despite a promise of autonomy.
The Sino-British Joint Declaration, signed in 1984, lays out Hong Kong’s future after its return to China in 1997, a “one country, two systems” formula that ensures freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland.
“Sino-British Joint Declaration is VOID,” one placard read. “SOS Hong Kong,” read another.
“One country, two systems is dead,” they shouted in English under the sub-tropical sun, some carrying the colonial flag also bearing the Union Jack. “Free Hong Kong.”
With many young people looking for routes out of Hong Kong, campaigners say Britain should change the status of the British National (Overseas) passport, a category created after Britain returned Hong Kong to China. The passports allow a holder to visit Britain for six months, but do not come with an automatic right to live or work there.
“I am here to demand the UK protect our citizens’ rights in Hong Kong and speak up for Hong Kong under the Joint Declaration,” Jacky Tsang, 25, told Reuters.
The spark for the protests was planned legislation, now withdrawn, that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial, despite Hong Kong having its own much-respected independent judiciary.
The protests have since broadened into calls for universal suffrage.
China says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” arrangement, denies meddling and says the city is an internal Chinese issue. It has accused foreign powers, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the unrest and told them to mind their own business.
Britain says it has a legal responsibility to ensure China abides by the 1984 declaration.
“The Joint Declaration is a legally binding treaty between the UK and China that remains as valid today as it was when it was signed and ratified over 30 years ago,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said in June.
“As a co-signatory, the UK government will continue to defend our position.”
But it was not immediately clear what Britain could or would want to do defend that position. It is pinning its hopes on closer trade and investment cooperation with China, which since 1997 has risen to become the world’s second-largest economy, after it leaves the European Union at the end of next month.
The Civil Human Rights Front has also called for a mass rally in Victoria Park, just to the east of the central business district, but police have denied permission because of earlier clashes after huge gatherings.
Protesters are expected to turn up early in the afternoon anyway.