By Tom Bannister
A truck carrying fireworks exploded on an elevated section of a highway in Henan yesterday, killing 10 people and injuring another 11.
The truck was travelling from the Hongsheng Fireworks Manufacturing Co, based in nearby Shaanxi province. The fireworks, destined for upcoming Spring Festival celebrations, had been packaged illegally, ignoring proper safety regulations. Four of the company’s management staff are now being questioned by police.
The huge explosion occurred on the Yichang bridge, near the small city of Sanmengxia in western Henan province. Surrounding vehicles were flung off the bridge to fall nearly 30 metres to the ground below. An 80m stretch of the bridge collapsed, covering the fallen cars in mounds of debris.
Early reports quoted a much higher number of casualties, but figures have subsequently been revised down to 10 killed and 11 injured. Authorities said that most of those who died were killed by the fall.
Fireworks are an integral part of Chinese New Year festivities, and the skies above all of China’s cities, towns and villages will be filled with them in a week’s time. There have been many previous instances of pre-holiday fireworks explosions in the past, including the terrible Fanglin village explosion of 2001, where 37 students and 4 teachers died whilst making their own fireworks to save money.