World

China gas plant in ruins after powerful blast

Aerial footage has revealed the scale of devastation after a huge explosion ripped through a gas factory in central China, killing at least 15 people and leaving 15 others seriously injured.

Explosion kills at least 15, injures several others as it shatters windows 3 km away

An aerial view shows the aftermath of the blast at a gas plant in Yima city in central China's Henan province. (Chinatopix/Associated Press)

Aerial footage taken on Saturday has revealed the  scale of devastation after a huge explosion ripped through a gas factory in central China's Henan Province on Friday.

The explosion took place around 5:45 p.m. local time at an air separation unit of the gas factory owned by the Henan Coal Gas (Group) Co. Ltd., located in the city of Yima.

At least 15 people have been killed, with 15 others severely injured, while many others are thought to have sustained less serious injuries.

The core blast site has been reduced to ruins and covered by massive dust and debris, with all major facilities having collapsed.

The force of the explosion also heavily affected the surrounding area with severe damage being seen as far as 300 metres away from the core blast site. The ground nearby is covered with a mess of broken glass, rubble from collapsed walls, and a huge sea of debris. A pungent smell also still hangs in the air.

All glass from windows within a radius of three kilometres was shattered due to the powerful shockwave triggered by the blast, while buildings in the area have been damaged to varying degrees.

A car is seen crushed by a pole near the site of the explosion at the Henan Coal Gas Group factory in Yima city, in China's central Henan province. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A total of 46 fire trucks and over 200 firefighters were deployed. Medical experts also arrived from the provincial capital Zhengzhou to treat the critically injured victims.

Rescuers were continuing the search Saturday for missing people at the site, local authorities said, while investigations into the cause of the tragedy were underway.

More than a day after the accident, the pungent smell was still around the scene. The local environment bureau in Sanmenxia, just west of Yima, said air pollution is inevitable after such an accident and that the air quality index will gradually return to normal.

"Because it is a gas factory, there may be some emissions after the explosion. These substances may come from raw materials, products, and any production links. Some substances are inevitably brought out after the explosion. They may have some direct impact on the rescue workers, but our monitoring facilities in the surrounding areas have shown results that meet the standards," said Lu Huachao, deputy director of Sanmenxia City's Eco-environment Protection Bureau.

The local environmental protection department said some wastewater from the blast and firefighting has flowed into the local river. The Yima municipal government said it was building a barrier to stop the contaminated water from heading downstream.