An explosion outside a chemical plant in northeastern China early Wednesday killed at least 22 people and destroyed scores of vehicles in the latest challenge to efforts to boost industrial safety in the world's second-largest economy. The blast occurred just after midnight at a loading area next to the plant operated by the Hebei Shenghua Chemical Industry Co. Ltd., according to a statement from the Zhangjiakou city government. The plant is located in Zhangjiakou, which is to play host to the 2022 Winter Olympics. Another 22 people were injured and 38 trucks and 12 passenger cars were destroyed by fire, the statement said.
"We request that citizens do not go to the site to watch in order to avoid disrupting recovery efforts," it said. An official at the city government propaganda department said the accident's cause was still under investigation and no other information could be provided, the AP reports. On its website, Hebei Shenghua describes itself as a "backbone enterprise of the city, and for the domestic chlor-alkali industry and one of the Top 500 chemical enterprises in the country." Footage from state broadcaster China Central Television showed row after row of charred tanker trucks with smoke still rising from some of them, hours after the explosion occurred. (In 2015, a massive explosion in Tianjin killed at least 173 people.)
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