BEIJING (AP) — Six people have been hospitalized and hundreds of firefighters deployed to battle a blaze sparked by an explosion at a plant in southern China that produces the toxic chemical paraxylene, officials said Tuesday.
Authorities said there have been no chemical leaks due to the blast Monday evening at Goure PX Plant in Zhangzhou, Fujian province, which was the second explosion to hit the factory in 20 months.
Paraxylene, or PX, is used for making fibers and plastics. Concerns over the safety of PX plants have prompted several protests in China in recent years. Exposure to the chemical can cause eye, nose and throat irritation.
Zhangzhou Deputy Mayor Zhang Yiteng told reporters that one person was injured at the blast site and an additional five hurt by broken glass. The official Xinhua news agency says strong tremors were felt up to 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.
Authorities deployed 177 fire trucks and 829 firefighters to fight the continuing blaze and all residents living near the plant have been evacuated, Zhang said.
There have been no chemical leaks from the plant's three storage tanks but authorities were continuing to closely monitor the air and water nearby, Zhang said.
The plant attracted protests even before it was built. It was slated for the densely populated city of Xiamen in Fujian, but protests in 2007 by residents concerned about potential health hazards succeeded in getting it moved to a less populated area in Zhangzhou.
Several other cities around China have seen similar protests.