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One dead in Shanghai chemical plant explosion

One dead in Shanghai chemical plant explosion

Multiple fires at a petrochemical plant in Shanghai have killed at least one person. (Photo: AFP/CNS)

BEIJING: A fire broke out at a Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical plant in Shanghai early on Saturday (Jun 18), killing one person, the company said.

A roaring fire was seen engulfing part of a sprawling factory, emitting columns of thick black smoke, in a video posted on Twitter by the state-backed Shanghai Daily.

The fire at one of China's biggest refining and petrochemicals plant started around 4am local time and had been brought under control by 9am but "was difficult to handle", state media Xinhua reported, citing fire officials.

It was expected to continue burning for some time.

Aerial drone footage shared by a resident with AFP shows thick clouds of smoke hanging over a vast industrial zone as three fires blaze in separate locations, turning the sky black.

"The fire at the scene has been effectively brought under control and protective burning is currently being carried out," Xinhua reported.

The driver of a third-party transport vehicle died and a company employee suffered a minor injury, said a Sinopec representative.

He said that the fire affected the ethylene glycol facility at the plant in Jinshan, a south-western suburb of China's financial capital.

The fire erupted as Shanghai, China's industrial engine and most populous city, gingerly resumes business after being sealed off for around two months to counter a coronavirus outbreak driven by the Omicron variant.

While the lockdown was officially lifted at the beginning of June, the snarling of supply chains and shutting of factories continues to have far-reaching consequences for the global economy.

At the petrochemical plant, an early morning explosion was heard by residents up to 6km away, according to local media. Videos on social media showed a large cloud of fire and ash billowing upwards.

"The whole area is completely incinerated," a resident could be heard saying in the background of one video.

The refinery is near the seafront in south Shanghai, as well as a wetland park.

The Shanghai fire department said on Weibo that it had dispatched more than 500 people immediately after the incident at around 4.28am.

The Ministry of Emergency Management has dispatched an expert group to the scene, CCTV reported.

Reports have not stated a possible cause of the fire.

State-owned Sinopec said on its official Weibo account that it was monitoring volatile organic compounds and impact to rainwater outlets, and that no impact on the surrounding water environment had been found.

Sinopec Shanghai has processing capacity for 16 million tonnes of crude oil a year and 700,000 tonnes of ethylene, according to its website.

It is building a 3.5 billion yuan (US$520 million) carbon fibre project as it seeks to diversify away from refining, and focus on resin and fibres.

Source: Agencies/kg/ic

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