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Septic tank at centre of blast

Ningbo (China): A septic tank was the epicentre of a massive explosion that rocked one of China’s largest port cities at the weekend, killing two people and injuring at least 19, authorities have said.

The blast tore through a crumbling light-industrial area adjacent to crowded residential towers in the city of Ningbo, just south of Shanghai, and was so powerful that it was heard several kilometres away.

The force of the explosion shattered windows in nearby apartments, mangled cars and reduced small buildings at the epicentre to rubble, though locals said the structures were already in poor shape and slated for demolition.

Public security officials “have confirmed that the blast’s epicentre is a septic tank in an empty field”, the local government said in a statement late on Sunday.

Officials have ruled out the possibility of a gas explosion or of the blast being intentionally set off by someone.

The statement said in addition to the two fatalities, two people are missing after the explosion. Four people were severely injured and 15 others had minor wounds.

“We were having tea and bwaaaah! It knocked my mother off her stool. It was incredibly loud,” said a local woman who lives about 400m from the blast site and who gave only her surname, Wu.

Authorities had thrown up a cordon around the collapsed buildings and were still investigating the cause of the explosion in Ningbo.

An elderly woman said one of her children was in the area at the time of the blast.

“Yes, we live here and one of my children is still inside (the cordoned-off area) and hasn’t been found yet,” she said, declining to give details.

She dabbed tears with a tissue and repeatedly dialled a number on her phone. Asked who she was calling, she said, “my child”.

Early yesterday, locals were sweeping up piles of debris and glass at the blast site where rubble was strewn across an area several hundred metres wide.

The government said it had received hundreds of reports of damage, such as shattered glass, twisted window frames or damaged cars.

The local government and state media have variously described the site of the explosion as a vacant lot or an abandoned factory. — AFP/


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