YANCHENG, CHINA - The death toll from a huge explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China surged to 44 Friday, making it one of the countrys worst industrial accidents in recent years.
At least 90 other people were seriously injured in Thursday afternoons blast at the industrial park in Yancheng, said the city government on its official Twitter-like Weibo account after firefighters battled raging fires through the night.
City officials had previously said that at least 12 people were killed and 30 injured in the explosion.
The explosion was so powerful that it apparently triggered a small earthquake, knocked down several factory buildings and shattered the windows of homes a few kilometers away. Nearby residents have started sweeping up glass, but in some cases seemed to have abandoned their homes entirely.
Hundreds of rescuers have been dispatched to the scene of the facility run by Tianjiayi Chemical, local authorities said, and more than 3,000 people have been evacuated from the blast site.
Authorities, who are investigating the cause of the accident, said an unspecified number of people were taken into police custody.
Images broadcast on local media showed how the blast toppled factory buildings, trapping workers inside. State broadcaster CCTV showed rescuers pulling a survivor from the wreckage.
Workers covered in blood were seen running out of the factory, the official news agency Xinhua said Thursday, citing witnesses.
An aerial view of the blast area showed a large swath of destruction in the industrial park, where multiple fires had initially raged.
The city government said fires in three chemical tanks and five other blazes in the area were extinguished.
Deadly industrial accidents are common in China, where safety regulations are often poorly enforced.