2019 Xiangshui chemical plant explosion

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2019 Xiangshui chemical plant explosion
Date21 March 2019
LocationChenjiagang Chemical Industry Park (陈家港生态化工园区), Xiangshui County, Yancheng, Jiangsu, China
Coordinates34°20′31″N 119°46′41″E / 34.34194°N 119.77806°E / 34.34194; 119.77806Coordinates: 34°20′31″N 119°46′41″E / 34.34194°N 119.77806°E / 34.34194; 119.77806
CauseChemical plant explosion
Non-fatal injuries617[1]
2019 Xiangshui chemical plant explosion is located in Jiangsu
Chenjiagang town
Chenjiagang town
Location of the chemical plant in Jiangsu

On 21 March 2019, a major explosion occurred at a chemical plant in Chenjiagang Chemical Industry Park, Chenjiagang, Xiangshui County, Yancheng, Jiangsu, China. According to reports published on March 25, 78 people were killed and 617 injured.[1]

The State Council of China officially recognized the severity of the accident, often referred to as "3.21 Explosive Accident".[2]


The facility—located in Yancheng's industrial park—was operated by Tianjiayi Chemical (江苏天嘉宜化工有限公司), and was used to produce fertilizer[3] or pesticides.[4] Some sources reported that the plant produced organic chemicals, including some highly flammable compounds.[4] Tianjiayi Chemical had previously been penalized six times for infractions of pollution and waste management laws,[5] and China Daily reported fines over safety issues.[4] This plant has had previous fires and deaths since there is not a government program to keep chemical plants like this one up to standard to prevent future disasters.[6] According to the South China Morning Post, this plant paid bribes, paid journalists and local officials so this chemical plant could remain open without any negative publicity or reasons to shut down.[7] This information comes from an engineer who helped to create this plant and other similar plants who have disregarded multiple safety regulations.[7] Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping and State Council premier Li Keqiang are "demanding the government to shut down these chemical firms when they do not comply to safety regulations it is so disregarded".[6]

On 27 November 2007, an explosion occurred in one of the chemical factories in Chenjiagang Chemical Zone (陈家港生态化工园区), with seven killed and around 50 injured.[8][9][10] On 23 November 2010, more than thirty were poisoned by a toxic gas release.[10][11] In the early morning of 11 February 2011, rumors of toxic chemical release and potential imminent explosions in the Chenjiagang Chemical Industry Park led over ten thousand residents to evacuate in panic from the towns of Chenjiagang and Shuanggang (双港) during which four people died and many were injured.[10] On the afternoon of May 18 and again on July 26 in 2011, there were explosions at local factories.[12]


The March 2019 explosion occurred at a local time of 14:48[13][14] (06:48 GMT). 78 people were killed,[1] and at least 94 were severely injured,[5] 32 of whom were critically injured.[4] Around 640 people required hospital treatment and were taken to 16 hospitals.[15][16][4] The injured included children at a local kindergarten.[4] CENC detected an ML2.2 artificial earthquake whose epicenter is at 34°19′52″N 119°43′26″E / 34.331°N 119.724°E / 34.331; 119.724.[14][17]

The force of the blast started numerous fires in Yancheng, knocked down several buildings, and reportedly destroyed windows several kilometers away.[3] The fire was reported to have been controlled by 03:00 local time.[16] Considerable damage was caused to nearby factories and offices;[18] the roof of Henglida Chemical Factory, 3 km from the explosion, fell in.[16] At least one of the people killed was in another building destroyed by the blast.[5] Windows are reported to have been blown out up to 6 km away from the explosion, and houses and other buildings were damaged in the nearby village-level administrative divisions including Hai'an Town (Haianju) (海安社区) and Shadang (沙荡社区).[18] This explosion was strong enough that it registered on earthquake sensors and could be seen by satellites.[6] The blast created a crater resulting in a magnitude 2.2 seismic shock that took over 900 firefighters to get the fire under control.[19]


The search for survivors was ongoing on 23 March;[18] one survivor was rescued from the site on the morning of 23 March,[5] but 25 of the 28 people earlier reported missing were found dead.[1] According to the Jiangsu environmental protection bureau, the monitored levels of benzene, toluene, and xylene in the area were not abnormal, and levels of acetone and chloroform outside the explosion area were within normal limits.[4] However, according to the South China Morning Post article entitled "Devastation at blast site after China chemical plant explosion leaves at least 64 dead, 640 injured" discusses the point of the surrounding three rivers were polluted with exceedingly high levels of dichloroethane and dichloromethane, at 2.8x and 8.4x the normal level according to national water quality standards.[20] The 170-metre-wide (560 ft) crater, 2 m (6 ft) deep, is required to be filled in along with neutralizing the soil to prevent contamination to the surrounding community.[7] "This chemical plant was flattened along with the surrounding 16 factories also have varying degrees of damage" per the South China Morning Post.[20]

The precise cause of the explosion is not yet known.[5][16] There were no reports of anything abnormal at the plant before the explosion.[16] A worker at the plant has reported the cause was a fire in a natural gas tanker that spread to benzoyl storage tank,[18] but this has not been confirmed.

According to Radio Free Asia, during the disaster, the local government used anti-drone technology to stop drones being used by journalists. The local government prevented outside media from entering the disaster area and hospitals to conduct interviews. Interviews were only granted to some in the Chinese media.[21]

On 4 April 2019, the Standing Committee of the Yancheng Committee of the Communist Party of China had a meeting at which it was decided to definitively close down the Xiangshui Chemical Industry Park.[22]

On 15 November, the State Council approved the investigation report, presented by the investigation team of the State Council. The report asserts the explosion accident being a serious production safety accident: there was a long-term practice of illegal storage of hazardous waste, resulting in spontaneous combustion and explosion.[23]

The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the State Supervisory Commission issued warnings to Fan Jinlong and Fei Gaoyun, Jiangsu Provincial People's Government executive deputy governor and deputy governor, respectively. At the same time, investigations and criminal charges filed against 44 enterprises and executives, for illegal storage of dangerous substances, significant violations of labor safety measures, environmental pollution, and forgery of certification documents.[24]


The Washington Post and the Financial Times recently reported about dissatisfaction and criticism of the Internet censorship growing around this accident, where many news articles and social media posts were deleted.[25]

According to Radio Free Asia, the local government dispatched drone jamming equipment and shot down drones used for aerial photography. The government also banned foreign media from entering the disaster area, and conducting interviews with hospitals.[21]

The Beijing News ridiculed the local government for enforcing the principle of "prevent fire, prevent theft, and prevent journalists".[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Coote, Darryl (26 March 2019). "Death toll rises to 78 in Chinese chemical plant explosion". UPI. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  2. ^ "国务院成立响水特大爆炸事故调查组-观察者网". m.guancha.cn. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Death Toll Soars to 44 in China Chemical Plant Blast, At least 90 Injured". News18. 2019-03-22. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Dozens killed and hundreds injured in explosion at Chinese chemical plant". The Guardian. 22 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e "China chemical blast: Survivor found but toll rises again". BBC News. 23 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  6. ^ a b c Stanway, David (22 March 2019). "China chemical plant blast kills 62; Xi orders probe". Reuters.
  7. ^ a b c "Chinese industrial park where chemical factory blast happened 'opened in a rush'". South China Morning Post. 31 March 2019.
  8. ^ 江苏省响水县一化工厂发生爆炸事故 已致7人死亡. Government of the People's Republic of China. 28 November 2007. Archived from the original on 3 August 2012.
  9. ^ Liu, Zhaoquan (刘兆权); Deng, Huaning (邓华宁) (30 November 2007). 响水"1127"爆炸事故原因初步查明. CCTV. Archived from the original on 2019-03-22.
  10. ^ a b c 江苏响水因谣言引发上万人惊慌出逃 [Rumors in Xiangshui, Jiangsu Lead over 10,000 to Evacuate in Panic]. Sina Corp. 29 March 2011. 2月9日深夜到10日凌晨,在江苏响水县上演的“大逃亡闹剧”最终导致4人死亡、多人受伤,而事发全程不过六七个小时。{...}晚上10点半左右,他突然发现厂区内冒起了白烟,随之而来的是一股比平时更加刺鼻的气味。“不好,又出事了。”刘洪昌顿时紧张起来。他家所在的大湾村与化工园区仅隔一条马路。2010年11月,园区一家企业发生氯气泄漏,30多名工人中毒。2007年,化工园区还发生过一次伤亡达50人的爆炸,村民们当时感觉“像发生了地震”。感觉“出事”的刘洪昌随即给几个正在一起打牌的朋友打电话,提醒他们:又有氯气泄漏了,“赶紧往上风的方向跑”。随后,牌局立刻中止,大家迫不及待地将这一“可怕的消息”通知家人、亲友。{...}2月10日凌晨2点左右,响水大逃亡达到高潮。据响水县人民政府办公室副主任、新闻发言人周厚良介绍,当日加入逃亡大军的人涉及陈家港镇、双港镇等4个乡镇的30多个行政村,超过一万人。
  11. ^ Zhu, Xudong (朱旭东); Wang, Junyong (王骏勇) (12 January 2011). 一则“谣言”引发“万人出逃”的背后——江苏响水“化工厂爆炸传言”事件追踪 (in Simplified Chinese). Archived from the original on 22 March 2019.
  12. ^ Gao, Shan (高山) (27 July 2011). 盐城南方化工有限公司日前再次发生爆炸. Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. 5月18日下午,陈家港的南方化工厂果然发生重大火灾。7月26号该厂又再次发生爆炸。
  13. ^ CENC (2019-03-21). 中国地震台网自动测定:03月21日14时48分在江苏盐城市响水县附近(北纬34.34度,东经119.75度)发生3.0级左右地震,最终结果以正式速报为准. Archived from the original on 2019-03-23.
  14. ^ a b CENC (2019-03-21). 中国地震台网正式测定:03月21日14时48分在江苏连云港市灌南县(疑爆)(北纬34.33度,东经119.73度)发生2.2级地震. Archived from the original on 2019-03-23.
  15. ^ hermesauto (22 March 2019). "Blast at Chinese chemical plant blast kills 47, injures 640". The Straits Times. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  16. ^ a b c d e "China chemical blast death toll rises to 47". BBC News. 22 March 2019. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  17. ^ Calculated from 34°20′N 119°44′E / 34.33°N 119.73°E / 34.33; 119.73 of GCJ-02.
  18. ^ a b c d "Chinese chemical plant survivors relive horror of 'earth-shattering' blast". South China Morning Post. 23 March 2019. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Death Toll Rises to 62 in China Chemical Plant Blast - World News". US News & World Report. 22 Mar 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Devastation at blast site after China chemical plant explosion leaves at least 64 dead, 640 injured". South China Morning Post. 23 Mar 2019.
  21. ^ a b @RFA_Chinese (22 Mar 2019). "【江苏阻记者采访无所不用其极】江苏响水县化工厂大爆炸事故发生后,当地政府部署了反无人机干扰器,专门用来对付记者的航拍报道,有记者录下了航拍机被击落一刻。除此之外,当地政府一律禁止外媒进入灾区范围与及所有医院,记者会亦只安排给指定内地媒体。#新闻封锁" (Tweet) (in Chinese) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ 江苏盐城决定关闭响水化工园区 支持各地区建设“无化区”. China Central Television. 4月4日,江苏盐城市市委常委会召开会议,决定彻底关闭响水化工园区,
  23. ^ "江苏响水天嘉宜化工有限公司"3·21"特别重大爆炸事故调查报告公布-新华网". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  24. ^ "江苏严肃查处江苏天嘉宜化工有限公司"3·21"特别重大爆炸事故案相关责任人-新华网". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  25. ^ Wang, Yuan; Shih, Gerry (22 March 2019). "Huge chemical blast kills at least 47, injures hundreds in eastern China". The Washington Post.
  26. ^ ""不防记者,专防爆炸"的"响水经验"又在哪里?_凤凰网资讯". news.ifeng.com. 2019-03-22. Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. Retrieved 30 November 2019.