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China rocked by second deadly chemical plant blast in two weeks

[SHANGHAI] A huge explosion ripped through a chemical plant in eastern China, killing one person and injuring nine, Xinhua news agency said, less than two weeks after two deadly blasts destroyed a warehouse storing chemicals in the northeast.

The fire on Saturday night in Huantai in the eastern province of Shandong was put out after about five hours and authorities said no contamination has been detected, Xinhua said.

But the disaster is bound to raise more questions about safety standards in a country where industrial accidents are all too common following three decades of fast economic growth. A blast at an auto parts factory killed 75 people a year ago.

Windows shattered in the village where the blast occurred, state media said, and tremors could be felt 2 km (1 mile) away.

Some 150 fire fighters and 20 fire engines were sent to the scene.

The explosion destroyed a factory belonging to Runxing Chemical, a subsidiary of the Runxing Group with 200 million yuan (US$31 million) in registered capital, Xinhua reported.

The factory produced adiponitrile, a colourless liquid that releases poisonous gases when it reacts with fire, according to Xinhua.

On Aug 12, two explosions at a warehouse storing dangerous chemicals devastated an industrial park in the northeastern port city of Tianjin, killing at least 121 people, including 67 fire fighters. More than 700 people were injured and thousands were evacuated because of the risk posed by chemicals stored at the site.

The Ministry of Public Security, China's police, said in a statement posted on its website that investigations into the Tianjin blasts were continuing and more time was needed before any conclusions could be reached.

Public anger against the government has surged in Tianjin among residents of apartments near the blasts who believed authorities neglected to police the firm, Tianjin Dongjiang Port Ruihai International Logistics, which owned the warehouse.