[BEIJING] Three people were injured in an explosion at a controversial chemical plant in the eastern Chinese city of Zhangzhou Monday, Chinese media reported, the second accident at the site in two years.
Footage from an amateur video posted by China's CCTV News showed flames billowing into the air following the explosion at the plant producing paraxylene - a chemical used to make fabric in Fujian province.
The blast occurred at around 6.56pm (1056 GMT) and the injured are being treated in hospital, the state-run Xinhua news agency said, citing provincial authorities.
It is the second accident in 20 months to occur at the facility, Xinhua reported. Some 430 firefighters were battling the blaze, it said, adding that witnesses reported feeling a tremor as far as 50km away.
Proposals for plants producing paraxylene, a flammable, carcinogenic liquid used in the production of polyester films and fabrics, have sparked large protests in several Chinese cities in recent years over fears it poses risks to health.
In March last year thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Maoming, in the southern province of Guangdong, for days of protests against a paraxylene plant.
The rallies underscored the increasing number of angry protests over environmental concerns in the country, where three decades of rapid and unfettered industrial expansion have taken a heavy toll.
Authorities in the coastal city of Xiamen cancelled plans for a plant producing paraxylene after thousands took part in a protest in 2007.
China's environmental minister in March said that construction of paraxylene projects must be "scientifically decided and must pass environmental impact assessment", Xinhua reported Monday.