Fireworks blast kills 25 in Shanxi
Twenty-five people were killed and nine injured in a fireworks factory explosion in Xiangfen County, North China's Shanxi Province, on Tuesday afternoon.
Five were critically wounded and four are in a relatively stable condition, according to local hospitals.
"The clean-up work is almost done, and there have been no new casualties," said Niu Jianhua, an official with the Shanxi Provincial Administration for Work Safety. He led the rescue work.
Niu said all victims were factory workers, mostly female workers from the county and neighbouring counties.
All the injured were taken to Xiangfen County People's Hospital before five were transferred to Lingang People's Hospital in Linfen City for better burns treatment. The county of Xiangfen is under the jurisdiction of Linfen.
"One male and four female workers are in a critical condition," said Doctor Jia, at Lingang People's Hospital.
The fireworks factory, in Jing'an village, employs 210 staff and was operated inside a cave.
Dozens of female workers were busy making fireworks in cave-workshops in time for the peak season -- Spring Festival -- which begins on February 9, when a huge blast was heard, said Li Jie, an official with the Linfen Administration for Work Safety.
A chain of blasts was sparked from one workshop to another, setting light to finished fireworks and inflammable raw materials kept in store in other caves, he said.
The main entrance of the factory was totally destroyed.
The blast is being blamed on work safety violations, Li said, although the factory does have a complete set of legitimate documents all required by different local authorities to permit production. It also holds certificates that say its storage and transport methods are safe, he said.