Steel factory gas leak in eastern China kills 10, injures 7

Work safety standards come into question as steel factory gas leak in eastern China leaves 10 dead and 7 wounded

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Empty workshops of liquefied chlorine in the Xundian Phosphorus and Power Company that stopped production after a chlorine gas leak incident in southwest China province, September 18, 2008.

A gas leak at a steel parts factory in eastern China killed 10 people and left seven others hospitalised with carbon monoxide poisoning in the latest deadly industrial accident to hit China, officials said on Monday.

The leak occurred late Saturday and poisoned 17 people, five of whom died immediately, the Zouping County government said on its official microblog. It says five more died early Sunday, and the cause of the leak is under investigation.

Satellite images show the factory next to warehouses and low-rise residential homes in a village about 60 kilometers (40 miles) east of Jinan, the Shandong provincial capital.

The deadly leak comes amid heightened sensitivity toward work safety in China, where authorities are under pressure to shore up safety practices and regulations after a huge chemical blast in Tianjin killed at least 140 people and left a swath of the port city in smoldering ruins.

Investigators found the Tianjin warehouse company was neither equipped to handle its volume of dangerous chemicals - nor permitted to store them so close to residential tower blocks.

In the aftermath of the August 12 explosion, top government leaders called for shoring up safety regulations and conducting nationwide inspections, but a string of deadly accidents across China has continued to mar the country's work safety record.

Since the beginning of September, China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based non-profit, tracked more than 100 separate incidents of fatal work accidents, including a chemical plant blast in Shandong Province that killed 13 and injured 25.