A massive explosion has been reported at China’s Yima gas plant in Henan province, damaging buildings in a 3-kilometer radius.
The casualties are still unknown as of the time of reporting, with some media citing Chinese television as saying that 18 people had so far been reported as injured, a dozen missing and possibly two confirmed fatalities.
Stills taken from Chinese television show giant plumes of smoke in the aftermath of the explosion.
According to AFP news agency reporters in Beijing, the explosion took place on Friday at 5:45pm local time in the air separation unit at the Yima gas factory and did not hit the gas tank areas.
Local authorities report that all production has been halted at the plant.
AFP reports two people missing and many injuries as emergency services scramble to contain the scene.
"Many windows and doors within a three-kilometre radius were shattered, and some interior doors were also blown out by the blast," state broadcaster CCTV said on its Twitter-like Weibo social media account, as reported by ChannelNewsAsia.
The situation is still developing, but is reminiscent of a string of recent and historical disasters of a similar nature in China.
In March, dozens were killed in an explosion at a Chinese chemical plant. Nearly 80 people were killed in the explosions, and hundreds of others were injured. Over 20 people were reportedly detained by authorities in the aftermath of this explosion, which was supposed to have prompted a nationwide inspection of chemical firms.
In August 2015, a warehouse handling hazardous chemicals in the city of Tianjin exploded, killing at least 165 people. The company that owned the warehouse did not have legal permission to handle the hazardous chemicals.
Drone footage of that photo taken by Chinese TV showed a massive crater caused by the toxic explosion.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group. More