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16 dead, dozens missing after blast at China chemical plant

An explosion at a chemical plant in northern China has killed at least 16 people and left dozens more missing. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.

BEIJING -- An explosion at a chemical plant in northern China on Tuesday killed at least 16 people, injured more than 40 and left dozens missing.

Fears of new blasts later halted rescue efforts, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The official Xinhua News Agency said that about 100 people were working at the Hebei Zhaoxian Keeper Chemical Co. plant in Hebei province's Zhaoxian county when a workshop was flattened.

Xinhua quoted Zhaoxian deputy chief Wu Haijiang as saying that rescue work had been stopped due to the risk of explosions.

China's State Administration of Work Safety said on its website that the blast happened during the production of guanidine nitrate, a high-energy fuel and propellant.

'I couldn't move any more'
However, China Daily reported that the plant mainly produces pesticides. It added that the force of the explosion broke windows more than a mile from the site.

The newspaper quoted worker Li Jianfei, 24, as telling China Central Television that he heard three explosions.


Tuesday's blast flattened a workshop at a chemical plant in northern China and shattered windows in surrounding villages.

"When I crawled out of the workshop, I couldn't move any more," he added. "It was someone else who carried me to the ambulance."

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.