Shanghai authorities announced on Saturday an investigation into a massive fire at a chemical plant that left one dead and one injured in the first major industrial accident since the city lifted the lockdown in early June.
The fire at a Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. factory in the outlying district of Jinshan broke out around dawn on Saturday and was brought under control within hours, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Aerial drone footage shared to AFP by a resident showed thick clouds of smoke hanging over a large industrial area as three fires broke out in different locations, turning the sky black.
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“At present, on-site disposal work is being carried out in an orderly manner and protective burning is underway,” the Shanghai government said on social media, adding that “security risks” were “controllable”.
“Monitoring data shows air quality is basically back to normal.”
The Shanghai government added that its emergency management office had launched an investigation into the cause of the accident.
The company said in a separate Weibo post on Saturday afternoon that it would cooperate with the investigation and that the closure of the affected facilities “will not have a significant impact on the market”.
The deceased was a “third-party transport vehicle driver” and an employee suffered minor injuries, the company said.
The refinery is located near Shanghai’s southern waterfront and a swamp park. The company said it was conducting environmental monitoring of the nearby area.
“At this time, no environmental impact on surrounding water bodies has been noted,” he said.
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The blaze broke out as Shanghai, China’s industrial powerhouse and most populous city, cautiously resumes operations after being locked down for about two months to counter an outbreak of the coronavirus caused by the Omicron variant.
While the lockdown was officially lifted in early June, the rumble of supply chains and factory shutdowns continue to have far-reaching consequences for the global economy.
Sky “full of fire”
At the petrochemical plant, an early morning explosion was heard by residents up to six kilometers (four miles), according to local media.
One person said the tremors from the blast caused the door to their apartment to shake violently.
“Half the sky was full of red fire and thick black smoke, there was dust and cotton-like things floating in the air,” the unnamed resident told Upstream News. Chongqing.
“The sound of combustion could be heard as a huge roar like the sound of an airplane in flight.”
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Images on social media showed a large cloud of fire and ash rising from behind rooftops.
The Shanghai Fire Department said on Weibo that it dispatched more than 500 people immediately after the incident.
The Ministry of Emergency Management also dispatched a group of experts to the scene, CCTV reported.
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Post expires at 3:26pm on Tuesday June 28th, 2022