Explosion at China car parts plant kills at least 69, injures more than 180

August 2, 2014: Medical staff move a severely burnt victim of an explosion at an eastern Chinese automotive parts factory from a hospital in the city of Kunshan, Jiangsu province to a Shanghai hospital which is better equipped to handle severe burns. Dozens of people were killed Saturday by the explosion at the factory that supplies General Motors, state media reported. (AP Photo)

August 2, 2014: Medical staff move a severely burned victim of an explosion at an eastern Chinese automotive parts factory from a hospital in the city of Kunshan, Jiangsu province to a Shanghai hospital . Dozens of people were killed Saturday by the explosion at the factory that supplies General Motors, state media reported. (AP Photo)

BEIJING –  A suspected dust explosion at an automotive parts factory in eastern China that supplies General Motors killed at least 69 people and injured more than 180 others, most with severe burns, state media reported Sunday.

It was China’s most serious industrial disaster since a fire at a poultry plant killed 119 people in June last year, and again highlighted workplace safety that remains a concern.

Saturday morning’s explosion occurred when more than 200 workers were on the site of the factory, which is in an industrial zone in the city of Kunshan, officials from the city said at a news conference. Kunshan, in Jiangsu province, is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southeast of Beijing.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of large plumes of thick, black smoke rising from the plant, and news websites posted photos of the dead or injured lifted onto the back of large trucks, their bodies black, presumably from burns or soot.

Some survivors sat on wooden cargo platforms on the road outside the factory or being carried into ambulances, their clothes apparently burned off and their skin exposed.

The explosion occurred at 7:37 a.m. at a workshop in the factory, which polishes wheel hubs. Rescuers pulled out 44 bodies at the site, while 25 other people died at a hospital, officials said. At least 187 people were injured. Read the rest of this entry »