At least 38 people were killed after a fire broke out in a workshop in the city of Anyang in central China’s Henan province, Chinese state media said, citing local authorities.
According to state media reports, two other people were injured and two were still missing. The fire broke out at around 16:00 local time (08:00 GMT) on Monday afternoon and it took firefighters around four hours to extinguish it.
More than 200 emergency workers and 60 firefighters responded to the fire and, according to a government statement, psychological counselors were on site for victims’ families.
The fire broke out at a small, private company plant in Anyang’s “high-tech zone,” state media said, without going into details about how the company operates.
According to online offerings from the company, Kaixinda, it is a wholesaler that deals in a wide variety of industrial goods, including so-called specialty chemicals.
China has had a number of industrial accidents in the past, which are often the result of poor compliance with safety regulations in an often highly competitive environment. Poor storage conditions, locked exits, and a lack of firefighting equipment are often cited as direct causes.
In March 2019, an explosion at a chemical plant in Yancheng, about 260 km (162 miles) north of Shanghai, killed 78 people and devastated homes within a radius of several kilometers.
In 2015, a huge explosion in a chemical warehouse in northern Tianjin killed 165 people in one of China’s worst industrial accidents of all time.
Henan himself has witnessed a series of fatal incidents that led to the arrest of local officials.
Five of those arrested were after a building collapse that killed 53 people on the outskirts of the provincial capital Changsha in April.