BEIJING — At least seven people were killed and five injured Sunday when a container containing scrap metal exploded in the latest in a series of industrial accidents in eastern China.
The early morning blast in the city of Kunshan in Jiangsu province caused a fire that spread to a nearby workshop, the city government said on its microblog. The cause of the explosion is under investigation, it said.
China experiences frequent industrial accidents despite orders from the central government, including president and ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping to improve safety at factories, power plants and mines, on pain of prosecution. Skirting of safety regulations — sometimes with the collusion of corrupt local officials — is generally given as the cause.
In March, 78 people were killed in a blast at a chemical plan in the Jiangsu province city of Yancheng that had numerous safety violations, in one of China's worst industrial accidents in recent years. A massive crater was formed, windows blown out for kilometers (miles) around, vehicles crushed and local residents forced to evacuate.
Earlier, in November, at least 22 people were killed and scores of vehicles destroyed in an explosion outside a chemical plant in the northeastern city of Zhangjiakou, which will host competitions in the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Among the worst accidents was a massive 2015 explosion at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers. That blast was blamed on illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials.
While China has largely curbed major traffic accidents, a fire on a tour bus traveling along a highway in central China has left 26 people dead and as many as 30 injured. Investigators said a passenger was carrying flammable materials that ignited accidentally.