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44 dead, 640 in east China chemical blast

TOKYO, March 22 (KUNA) -- At least 44 people were killed and 640 others injured in a blast at a chemical plant in east China's Jiangsu Province Hebei Province, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Friday, citing the rescue headquarters.
The explosion happened at about 2:48 p.m. (0648 GMT) Thursday, following a fire that broke out in a factory located in a chemical industrial park in Yancheng City, the report said.
A total of 640 people are receiving medical treatment in hospitals. Among them, 32 are still in critical conditions and 58 others sustain severe injuries. Workers were trapped after buildings were knocked down by the shockwave, which also shattered windows of nearby residential houses. The Ministry of Emergency Management has dispatched a team of experts to the site and urged all-out efforts in the rescue.
The National Health Commission said it has dispatched three batches of medical experts on burns, neurosurgery, psychological intervention, intoxication, and public hygiene to help with rescue and relief work. (end) mk.rk