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February 22, 2010

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6 killed, 8 injured after Shanghai factory blaze

SIX people were killed and eight injured, three of them critically, after a fire ripped through a recycling center in Shanghai's Qingpu District yesterday afternoon.

The Shanghai Public Security Bureau said last night the fire was triggered by an explosion of chemical containers made of plastics and metal during the waste treatment process, according to the initial investigation.

The eight injured people were rushed to Ruijin Hospital and a military medical center.

The three critically hurt people suffered severe burns.

One man suffered burns to 68 percent of his body and a woman suffered 11 percent burns, according to Ruijin Hospital.

The victims were all workers at the reclamation depot.

The fire broke out about 4:10pm at the Yuesheng reclamation depot on Jiasong Road M., near Beiqing Road N.

Surrounded by heavy smoke, the scene was soon cordoned by police as 13 fire engines and 143 firefighters arrived. The fire was put out about 8pm.

Workers at a nearby factory said they first heard an explosion but thought it was firecrackers.

"Then the ground began to shake and we panicked, thinking it was an earthquake, and rushed out," a witness said.

Another witness said: "Crackling sounds were everywhere and some people ran out of the fire with their hair and clothes burnt."

Smoke from the fire was seen half kilometer away and the burning area was estimated to be at least 500 square meters.

The depot was a small manufacturer of plastic products that had collected a large amount of flammable substances.

Witnesses said the fire began at a workshop of the depot and that its roof collapsed in the heat. Remains of shelters, some of them workers' dormitories, were scattered around the scene.


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