A high-pressure steam pipe exploded at a coal-fired power plant still under construction in central China’s Hubei Province killing at least 21 people and injuring five Thursday afternoon, local authorities said.
Three of the injured are in a critical condition.
The accident occurred at Madian Gangue Power Generation Co. Ltd. in Dangyang City around 3:20 p.m.
The steam pipe broke during testing, according to the Dangyang city committee of the Communist Party of China.
An investigation is underway into the cause of the blast, authorities said.
Xinhua reporters saw a dozen emergency vehicles parked at the factory gate.
A nurse with Dangyang People’s Hospital said three of the injured are being treated in the ICU.
Du Qiuxin, a villager who lives 1 kilometer away from the plant, said: “I was woken up by a loud bang which lasted for several minutes.”
Reports said the company operating the plant was registered for generation of thermal power and to sell slag, ash and petroleum products.
The blast came a day before the first anniversary of huge explosions that killed at least 165 people in the northern port of Tianjin.
Industrial accidents are common in China. Over 130 people were taken to hospital after chemicals leaked from a plant in eastern China earlier this year.
In April, a chemical fire burned for 16 hours in the coastal province of Jiangsu after an explosion at a facility storing chemicals and fuel, requiring 400 firefighters to quell the flames.
The massive blasts in Tianjin last year sparked widespread anger over safety negligence by factory management and lack of openness by officials about the cause of the accident and its possible impact on environment.