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Explosion at China chemical plant kills four

world Updated: Aug 26, 2008 13:27 IST

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An explosion ripped through a chemical plant in southern China early on Tuesday, killing four people and forcing the evacuation of local residents, state media reported.

The explosion at the plant in Yizhou city, in Guangxi region, was followed by a fierce fire and several people were injured, the China News Service reported, quoting rescuers at the scene.

More than 30 people were working at the time, it said.

The blast happened at about 6:00am (2200 GMT on Monday), and officials ordered the evacuation of residents living within a three-kilometre (two-mile) radius of the plant for fear of further blasts and chemical leaks, Xinhua news agency said.

"Leaders of the region have arrived at the scene, and they are handling the accident," an official at the Guangxi Work Safety Bureau told AFP, but refused to confirm the number of casualties.

"Any information related to the accident will be released by the Guangxi government."

Rescuers said several explosions were heard and thick smoke enveloped the plant, according to Xinhua.

One witness told China News Service that he was sleeping at the time of the explosion when he heard a huge noise which he thought was an earthquake.

He left his house with neighbours and travelled 10 kilometres away because he feared the smoke coming toward them would be poisonous.

The factory, owned by Guangxi Guangwei Chemical Co., made polyvinyl acetate, which is used in adhesives, and vinyl acetate monomer, which is used in paints, adhesives and coatings.