March 25, 2019 / 9:08 AM / in a month

Death toll from China pesticide plant blast rises to 78

A man wearing a mask looks on next to a man carrying a broom at a damaged building, following an explosion at a pesticide plant owned by Tianjiayi Chemical nearby, in Xiangshui county, Yancheng, Jiangsu province, China March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

BEIJING (Reuters) - The death told from a massive explosion last week at a pesticide plant in eastern China rose to 78 on Monday, with 13 people listed as being critically injured, as the government again pledged stricter safely controls, state media reported.

Public anger over safety standards has grown in China over industrial accidents, ranging from mining disasters to factory fires, that have marred three decades of swift economic growth.

State television said 566 people were still being treated in hospital after Thursday’s blast at the Chenjiagang Industrial Park in Yancheng city, Jiangsu province on China’s east coast.

Air quality remained within a safe range, the report added.

The official Xinhua news agency said China would strengthen the control and management of dangerous chemicals, and conduct risk assessments for all chemical industry parks.

“Authorities at all levels should inspect enterprises that are involved in nitration manufacturing and storage to make sure they comply with regulations on dangerous chemicals,” Xinhua said, citing a statement from the Ministry of Emergency Management.

Despite repeated government pledges to tighten safety, disasters have hit chemical plants in particular, with 23 people killed in November in a series of blasts during the delivery of a flammable gas at a chemical maker.

In 2015, 165 people were killed in explosions at a chemical warehouse in the northern city of Tianjin, one of the world’s busiest ports, which is not far from the capital, Beijing.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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