Warehouse blasts blamed on rule-breaching storage

Updated: 2008-02-17 09:14

The Yuetong Warehouse and Transport Co., the scene of Thursday's fireworks warehouse explosions in Foshan City of south China's Guangdong Province, had broken safety rules in storage of firecrackers, the country's safety watchdog said on Saturday.

The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said the company had been storing lots of fireworks in unsatisfactory buildings.

The area of the fireworks warehouses were not surrounded by walls, which is a major safety flaw for such facilities, it said.

Preliminary findings indicated that the Yuetong warehouses had about 15,000 boxes of fireworks in storage, from seven fireworks trading companies in Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, when the explosions happened, said the SAWS.

China is responsible for about 75 percent of the world's total annual firecracker production, but Guangdong has banned their production in the province.

Yet, the firm based in Sanshui on the northern bank of the Pearl River, currently the sole company in the fireworks business at Sanshui port, is said to handle 60 to 70 percent of China's exported fireworks, most of which are made in neighboring Hunan and Jiangxi provinces.

The explosions started around 3:30 am on Thursday, and lasted more than 30 hours and also set a neighboring woods on fire.

The blasts damaged about 20 warehouses, and windows were shattered and metal doors were damaged up to a kilometer away. Fortunately, only two people suffered slight bruises from broken glasses.

The SAWS also asked on Saturday for local agencies to strengthen safety supervision across the country by learning from the accident, as fireworks are a common way of celebrating the lunar New Year for Chinese until the Lantern Festival, which falls on February 21.

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