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Police detain boss after deadly blast

POLICE have detained a company boss for illegally storing explosives that triggered a blast that left at least 16 dead and over 40 injured in east China's Anhui Province yesterday.

Cao Peijun was captured by police fleeing with 2 million yuan (US$292,500) of cash he had drawn from the bank.

Cao, boss of the Jingxin Mining Co Ltd in Fengyang County of Chuzhou City, was found to have illegally stored an estimated 5 to 7 tons of explosives in an office building in the factory compound, said Wang Tuqiang, vice mayor of Chuzhou. The city is about 120 kilometers from Hefei, the provincial capital.

Cao's son, one of the senior managers of the company, gave himself up to the police yesterday afternoon.

The explosion happened at 3:17am, killing at least 16 people and injuring 43 others, three of them seriously.

One of the three suffered a ruptured spleen and the other two had serious fractures, but all are in a stable condition.

Soon after the accident, Wang Jinshan, secretary of the provincial committee of the Communist Party of China, and Anhui's governor Wang Sanyun went to the scene to organize rescue operations and the investigation.

The blast left a 5-meter-deep pit, 10 meters in diameter, razed the two-story building and ripped through nearby workers' dormitories, dining halls and workshops.

Most of the victims were workers. They were struck by rubble as they slept. Many of the injured were residents who were hit by broken glass or debris, Wang said.

The privately owned company, with about 60 employees, began production in 2003.

It processed about 30,000 tons of quartz sand annually to be sold both in the domestic market and in Southeast Asia and Europe.

The company has suspended operations.


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