Shanghai authorities on Saturday announced an investigation into a massive fire at a chemical plant that killed one person and injured another in the first major industrial accident since the city lifted its lockdown in early June.
The fire at a Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co. in the remote Jinshan district broke out around dawn on Saturday and was under control within hours, according to the state news agency Xinhua.
Aerial drone footage shared to AFP by a resident showed thick clouds of smoke hovering over a sprawling industrial area as three fires blazed in different locations, turning the sky black.
“At present, on-site disposal works are being carried out in an orderly manner and a protective burn is being carried out,” the Shanghai government said on social media, adding that “security risks” were manageable.
“Monitoring data … shows that air quality has basically returned to normal.”
The government of Shanghai added that its emergency aid agency has launched an investigation into the cause of the accident.
The company said in a separate Weibo post Saturday afternoon that it would cooperate with the investigation and that the closure of relevant facilities “will not have a significant impact on the market”.
The person who died was a “remote driver of a transport vehicle” and an employee suffered minor injuries, the company said.
The refinery is located near the southern coast of Shanghai and a wetland park. The company said it was conducting environmental monitoring in the nearby area.
“No environmental impact on surrounding waters has been found at this time,” it said.
The fire broke out as Shanghai, China’s industrial engine and most populous city, cautiously resumed business after being shut down for about two months to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus caused by the Omicron variant.
While the lockdown was officially lifted in early June, the grunts from supply chains and the closing of factories continue to have far-reaching effects on the global economy.
Heaven ‘full of fire’
At the petrochemical plant, an early morning explosion was heard by residents up to six kilometers (four miles) away, according to local media.
One person said the vibrations from the explosion caused their apartment door to vibrate violently.
“Half the sky was full of red fire and thick black smoke, there was dust and cotton-like things floating in the air,” the unnamed resident told Chongqing newspaper Upstream News.
“The sound of a burning noise could be heard – a huge roar like the sound of a flying plane.”
Images on social media showed a large cloud of fire and ash rising from behind the roofs.
The Shanghai Fire Department said on Weibo it dispatched more than 500 personnel immediately after the incident.
The Ministry of Emergency Relief had also sent a group of experts to the scene, state television reported.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)