Jordanian national among three held for blast in China

Last Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 22:13

Beijing: Three people, including a Jordanian national, have been arrested for a massive warehouse explosion reportedly caused by explosive materials used in toy guns in China`s Guangzhou city that left eight people dead.

The Jordanian owner of the goods was among three people detained for illegal storage of explosives responsible for the blast that also left 36 people wounded, official media said.

The blast took place two days ago at a roadside storehouse in Guangzhou`s Baiyun District when workers were unloading goods from a container truck.

An investigation showed the goods unloaded were bullets with powder for toy pistols, the production and circulation of which are forbidden in China, the municipal government said.

The pistols, packaged under the name "8 shot plastic disc cap," contained powder made of potassium chlorate and red phosphorus. They are classified as fireworks, and their production and storage should be under strict supervision, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted police as saying.

The bullets are supposed to generate sound and smoke only. They are not destructive and cannot be used as assault weapons, according to the police. However, the large number of these non-destructive toy bullets packed together without adequate safety measures resulted in the fatal tragedy.

The accident reminded local residents of another similar explosion in the Huangpu District on March 13, 2008, when eight people were killed. That accident was also caused by powder for toy pistols.

The Chinese government promulgated a national-level regulation on fireworks and firecrackers in 2006, which included detailed restrictions on production, transport and storage. China is the largest exporter of fireworks and firecrackers in the world.

According to customs, the products are only allowed to be exported by licensed companies.

The Guangzhou Municipal Administration of Work Safety identified the case as a "responsibility case" after a preliminary investigation, as the owner of the explosives had concealed the nature of the items and put hazardous articles in normal storage. The complicated source of tenants is another headache for supervision.

A man surnamed Cai working for the owner told Xinhua that many of the tenants are employees of small foreign traders, mostly from the Middle East and Africa.

Several foreign businessmen visited the warehouses on Wednesday, inquiring about the safety of their storage.

According to the Arabic Chamber of Commerce in Guangzhou, there are around 20,000 Arabs living in Guangzhou who run over 1,000 companies, offices or restaurants.

"Logistics businesses with licenses to store dangerous articles are under government supervision," said an official from the city`s work safety administration on condition of anonymity. "But it is hard to supervise the large number of ordinary warehouses, which form the majority," he said.

A two-month safety overhaul has been launched by the administration across the city on Wednesday in the wake of the blast. The examination will focus on warehouses in the outskirts and suburban areas, as well as harbours, wharfs, logistic stations and truck lots.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 22:13

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