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Boy, 2, critical after E China factory blast
Updated: 2009-06-22 11:30

HEFEI: Doctors are fighting to save the life of a 2-year-old boy who sustained with serious head injuries in a factory explosion that left 16 dead in east China on Sunday.

Li Zhenwei was in a critical condition and relying on a respirator in the affiliated hospital of Bongbu Medical College, Wu Qiongyu, deputy head of the Anhui Provincial Health Department, said Monday.

His grandfather, who lived with him in a dormitory residence, died in the blast.

Also seriously injured were a 23-year-old male worker named Li Tao, who suffered a ruptured spleen, and a 60-year-old man, named Xu Weide, who suffered head injuries and a broken leg. They were in stable condition at the hospital, said Wu.

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Explosives stored in the two-storey office building of the Jingxin Mining Co. Ltd. in Fengyang County, Anhui Province, detonated at 3:17 am Sunday, killing 16 people and injuring 43 others.

The blast left a 5-meter-deep pit, which is 10 meters in diameter, razed the two-storey building and ripped through nearby workers' dormitories, dining halls and workshops.

Most of the victims were workers, who were struck by debris as they slept. Many of the injured were residents hit by broken glass or debris.

Police have detained Cao Peijun, the legal representative of the company. He was captured after allegedly withdrawing 2 million yuan ($292,500) of cash from a bank after the blast.

Cao's son, one of the senior managers of the company, turned himself into police Sunday afternoon.

The privately-owned company had about 60 employees and started production in 2003, registering 20 million yuan in fixed assets.

It processes about 30,000 tonnes of quartz sand annually, which is sold both in domestic market and exported to Southeast Asia and Europe.

The company has halted operations and its yard is cordoned off.

Police are questioning Cao over the source of the explosives and investigating how they detonated.

Sun Huashan, deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety, and two Ministry of Public Security officials arrived in Fengyang Sunday evening to direct the investigation.