18 killed in chemical plant blasts in China

The death toll from explosions that ripped through a chemical plant in southwest China rose to least 18 Wednesday, a local official said. Twenty other people were still missing, a Ms. Huang from the propaganda department of the local Communist Party said. She would not give her first name as is common with officials in China. Another 60 people were injured, she said. The official Xinhua News Agency put the death toll at 14, with six people still missing. The first explosion occurred at about 6 a.m. Tuesday in Yizhou city in Guangxi province and the blasts continued until 1 p.m. Fire spread over a nearly 10,000-square-meter area, Xinhua said, citing an unidentified firefighter in the rescue operation. The government evacuated 11,500 residents in case of further blasts and chemical leaks.