Six people have been injured after an explosion at a chemical plant in southern China.Hundreds of firefighters were deployed to tackle the hydrocarbon fire following the blast at Goure PX Plant in Zhangzhou, Fujian province.
Strong tremors were felt up to 30 miles (50km) away, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Footage posted by China’s XulNews showed flames shooting into the air following the explosion.
Authorities said there were no leaks from the plant’s three tanks of burning hydrocarbon liquids and no signs of environmental contamination.
The factory produces the toxic chemical paraxylene and this is the second explosion there in 20 months.
Concerns over the safety of plants that make paraxylene, a chemical used for producing fibres and plastics, have prompted several protests in China.
Exposure to the chemical, which is also known as PX, can cause eye, nose and throat irritation.
Zhang Yiteng, deputy mayor of Zhangzhou, said one person was injured at the blast site and five hurt by broken glass.
A total of 177 fire trucks and 829 firefighters were deployed to fight the blaze and all nearby residents were evacuated, Mr Zhang said.
He added that the fire was under control and authorities were monitoring the environment for contamination.
There were protests against the plant before it was even built.
It was originally meant to be built in the densely populated city of Xiamen in Fujian, but demonstrations in 2007 by residents concerned about potential health hazards led to it being moved to a less populated area in Zhangzhou.
Several other cities around China have seen similar protests.
In a sign of the ruling Communist Party’s sensitivity to the debate surrounding environmental issues, comments on a report on the incident on the Netease web portal have been disabled.
Discussion of the explosion dominated China’s popular online social networks, with many users saying the blast vindicates the environmental protesters’ fears.
“Do you remember what we were worried about at the time?” wrote a user on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter equivalent, referring to protests in the northeastern city of Dalian in 2011.
“What we worried about is now the reality in Zhangzhou.”
Another wrote: “Only when the city officials and their families live near a PX plant will their assurances be convincing.”
“They should build a PX plant in Beijing,” said another.