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Rescuers are searching around the clock for survivors at the remains of a plastics factory in Nanjing, the capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.
A powerful blast ripped through the plant and neighbouring compounds on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and injuring hundreds, 14 of them critically.
The devastating blast left the site covered in rubble and debris. Buildings and vehicles within a 100 meter radius of the plant were seriously damaged. Windows were shattered, leaves were shed from trees. Nearby stores, restaurants, a gas station and other buildings were all damaged and have suspended service.
Rescuers and firefighters have been on an overnight operation, using life-detection instruments and sniffer dogs to look for possible survivors.
Zhang Minghui,vice chief of staff of fire brigad, Nanjing Public Security Bureau, said, "The locals told us there were people in this building. We are searching for them, but haven't found any survivors."
The tragedy was triggered by a gas leak on Wednesday morning. Workers were dismantling the Nanjing Number 4 Plastic Factory. Then an excavator ruptured an underground propylene pipeline. About 10 minutes later, a nearby motorist started a car engine and detonated the already dense gas in the air.
The explosion resulted in a major fire which is now under control. Firefighters remain on high alert to prevent secondary disasters.
Zhang Minghui said, "The gas is toxic and inflammable. If we shut the valves, it may leak and explode again. So we are monitoring the remaining gas, letting it burn out."
Officials say some rescuers and repairmen who had come to handle the gas leak may have also died in the explosion.
The excavator operator, whose identity has not been revealed, is being held by police as part of the investigation.
The local power supply company has mobilized floodlighting vehicles to provide a temporary substitute for the damaged power network. Cleanup work is expected to last a few more days, and workers say they will spare no effort in looking for survivors.