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Blast kills 22 outside a factory in Olympic city of China

ZHANGJIAKOU, China: A vehicle carrying dangerous chemicals exploded at the entrance of a chemical factory in a city in northern China that will host the 2022 Winter Olympics on Wednesday, leaving 22 people dead and 22 others injured, state media and authorities said.

The blast ignited other vehicles, leaving charred and smoking remains of trucks and cars scattered on a road as firefighters worked at the scene, according to images posted online by state media.

A witness told AFP he heard a “very loud bang” after midnight and saw a field and trucks engulfed in flames outside the Hebei Shenghua Chemical Co. factory in Zhangjiakou, a city some 200 kilometres (124 miles) northwest of Beijing.

The side of a building was covered in soot in front of a row of burnt out trucks across the road, footage broadcast by CCTV showed following the latest deadly incident to hit a factory in China.

The blast damaged 38 trucks and 12 cars, the local publicity department said on its Twitter-like Weibo social media account.

The injured were taken to hospitals for treatment following the blast at 00:41 am, according to the department.

The factory’s and exterior archway were blackened. Across from the blast, AFP reporters saw a field of blackened grass and trees, with smoke billowing from the embers. Heavy machinery was brought in to remove debris.

According to a preliminary investigation, a vehicle carrying dangerous chemicals blew up while waiting to enter the plant, igniting nearby vehicles, according to the official Xinhua news agency. CCTV described the vehicle as a tanker.

Rescue efforts and the investigation are still underway, Xinhua said.

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