China bars online discussion of mystery blast that killed 14
THE toll from a powerful explosion in China rose to 14 dead and 147 injured yesterday, state media said, as authorities censored discussion of the incident online.
The blast in Xinmin, in the northern province of Shaanxi, on October 24 tore through five buildings, destroying or damaging 58 others, the official Xinhua news agency said.
It may have been caused by illegally stored explosives, an initial investigation found.
Pictures showed widespread damage, with windows blown out of buildings, a crater in the street and bloodied victims lying on the ground.
Rescue efforts had concluded by yesterday, and more than 100 of the injured were still hospitalised, Xinhua said, citing local authorities.
The explosion comes at a time of heightened vigilance for the ruling Communist Party, which is holding a high-level meeting in Beijing, the “Sixth Plenum”.
Outraged social media users said that there were comparatively few reports on the incident online, and others had been deleted, with comments on many platforms disabled.
“They’ve closed off discussion of the incident and don’t dare reveal the numbers of casualties and deaths,” wrote one incensed user. “Such a big incident, and they’re preparing to quash it under pressure.”
Industrial accidents are common in China, where safely regulations are often flouted.
Giant explosions at a chemical storage facility in the northern port of Tianjin last year killed at least 165 people. –