China stops Hebei fireworks production after deadly blast


Chinese authorities have ordered a halt to production in all fireworks factories in northern Hebei Province after a blast in one plant killed 29 people and injured 91, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports. One survivor described the explosion as "like an earthquake."

All Hebei fireworks factories need overhauls and safety inspections, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing an emergency meeting led by Hebei's governor held after Monday's blast.

"It was like an earthquake. I couldn't see anything. The roof caved in," one survivor told RFA's Mandarin service. "My lower body was buried in the rubble. I climbed my way out of the debris." Workers at the factory had no workman's compensation insurance, he said.

The blast occurred at the Guoxi fireworks factory in the town of Wangkou.

Another local resident, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said "Hospitals No. 1 and No. 2 are full with the injured."

After a 2001 explosion that destroyed a southern China schoolhouse where parents claimed children had been forced to make firecrackers, then-Premier Zhu Rongji issued an unprecedented apology on national television for failing to protect public safety.


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