China: Massive Explosion Kills At Least 7, Injures 200

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BEIJING -- A massive explosion near an expressway ramp in southwest China killed at least seven people and injured about 200 while also destroying several homes on Tuesday.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the midday blast occurred in the Guizhou province city of Fuquan, but gave no further details.

A man who answered the phone in the press office at the city's Communist Party branch said the blast was caused by three explosives-laden vehicles that caught fire, also destroying a garage and a food warehouse. The man, who like many Chinese officials refused to give his name, could not give details about what kind of explosives were involved.

Heavy machinery was being used to search for victims in the wreckage, he said.

Xinhua said two trucks carrying a total of about 70 tons of explosives caused the blast, and that the number of dead had risen to seven by Tuesday evening while another 200 or so were being treated at nearby hospitals for injuries.

Accidents and explosions are common in China due to weak safety standards and lax building practices.

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