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Death toll increases to 64 in Chinese chemical plant blast

March 23 (UPI) — Officials raised the death toll at a chemical plant that exploded in eastern China to 64 on Saturday and announced the rescue of a survivor two days after the blast.

The pesticide plant exploded Thursday afternoon with the force of a small earthquake that reduced the building to rubble. The explosion is being blamed on a fire that broke out at the factory run by Tianjiayi Chemical in Yancheng.

Rescuers pulled a man in his 40s from the rubble Saturday morning.

Yancheng Mayor Cao Lubao said 28 people are still missing and about 26 of the dead have been identified.

Among those who survived, 617 people sustained injuries, 21 of whom were in critical condition.

The owners and directors of the chemical plant have received fines and warnings multiple times over unsafe conditions at the factory. The State Administration of Work Safety listed the plant as having 13 safety problems following an inspection last year.

The company also previously received six government penalties over waste management and air pollution.

“The accident demonstrates that some local governments and companies in Jiangsu province did not take past accidents seriously and did not invest solidly in improving security measures,” the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management said.

“They just continued with their deeds and it resulted in tragedy.”

Industrial accidents are not uncommon in China due to poorly enforce safety standards.

In 2015, 173 people were killed and 1,000 injured at a Tianjin factory explosion that has been blamed on weak regulations.

More recently, in July 19 people died due to a chemical plant explosion in Sichuan.

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