North China Factory Blast Kills 13
   2012-02-28 12:45:56    Xinhua      Web Editor: Zhangxu

Photo taken on Feb. 28, 2012 shows the damaged workshop after an explosion occurred at Kaer Chemical Plant in Zhaoxian County, north China's Hebei Province. [Photo: Xinhua]

Thirteen people have been confirmed dead and 43 others injured after an explosion ripped through a chemical plant in north China's Hebei province Tuesday morning, local authorities said.

The accident happened at around 9:30 a.m. at Hebei Keeperchemical Industries Co.,Ltd in Zhaoxian county, said Cheng Weiqing, deputy chief of the public security bureau of Shijiazhuang, Hebei's capital city which administers Zhaoxian.

The blast flattened one of the factory's workshops and shattered window panes within a radius of 2,000 meters, Cheng quoted witnesses as saying.

The injured had been hospitalized, according to Cheng. The blast was felt in at least three villages near the plant, he said.

There was no risk of contamination from the blast at the plant, which manufactures pesticide products such as guanidine nitrate, Cheng added.

Family members of the workers had arrived, waiting outside the factory.

Most of the employees are middle-aged men. The products of factory are highly toxic and the factory only employs married men, villagers said.

Local authorities said Hebei Keeperchemical Industries Co.,Ltd is a private company, which also had a fire in 2011 -- leaving no casualties.

Provincial government officials had arrived and the rescuing work was still underway.

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