Chinese media has reported the death toll caused by an explosion at a pesticide plant in the eastern province of Jiangsu at the Chenjiagang Industrial Park, which has killed 47 people and injured more than 600 on Thursday March 21st. A fire was finally brought under control at 3.00 a.m. on Friday March 22nd (1900 GMT), state television said.
According to Reuters, survivors were taken to 16 hospitals, with 640 people being treated for injuries, and 32 in a critical condition. Children at a nearby kindergarten were also hurt.
Police, some wearing face masks, sealed off roads to the plant. The blast smashed windows in the village of Wangshang, two kilometres (1.2 miles) away, and shocked villagers who likened it to an earthquake.
"There was one loud bang followed by a long rumble," said a spectator, who gave his family name as Wang, told Reuters. "All the windows were smashed. I went to have a look. Near the site there was blood everywhere. People were crushed."
President Xi Jinping, who is in Italy on a state visit, ordered all-out efforts to care for the injured and to "earnestly maintain social stability," state television said.
Authorities must step up action to prevent such incidents and determine the cause of the blast as quickly as possible, Xi added.
"There has recently been a series of major accidents, and all places and relevant departments must fully learn the lessons from these," the report cited Xi as saying.
The notice, published on the news website of the province's Communist Party, said the government would shut down chemical firms found not to be complying with regulations on dangerous chemicals.
Public anger over safety standards has grown in China over industrial accidents, ranging from mining disasters to factory fires, that have marred three decades of swift economic growth.
In 2015, 165 people were killed in explosions at a chemical warehouse in the northern city of Tianjin, one of the world's busiest ports, which is not far from the capital, Beijing.
Those blasts were big enough to be seen by satellites and register on earthquake sensors.
Despite repeated government pledges to tighten safety, disasters have hit chemical plants in particular, with 23 people killed in November in a series of blasts during the delivery of a flammable gas at a chemical maker.