Blast in chemical plant in China kills 19, injures 12

At least 19 were killed in an explosion at a chemical plant in China on Friday, officials say. (Shutterstock photo)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Blast in chemical plant in China kills 19, injures 12

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: An explosion at a chemical plant in China has killed 19 people and injured 12, the local government said on Friday, the latest deadly industrial incident in the world’s largest producer of chemicals.
It is not yet clear what caused Thursday evening’s blast at Yibin Hengda Technology in an industrial park several hours southeast of Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, authorities in Jiang’an county said.
The injured are in stable condition and an investigation has begun, state news agency Xinhua said.
The company did not immediately answer telephone calls from Reuters to seek information.
Photographs on Chinese social media showed a huge fire and plumes of smoke rising from the facility.
The fire, which broke out early on Thursday evening, was put out by 11:30 p.m., the government said in its statement.
China has kicked off measures to improve industrial safety, ramping up checks over the last year, following some high-profile incidents at coal mines and chemical plants.
In 2015, an explosion in a chemical warehouse in the northern port city of Tianjin killed 165 people. Last year a blast at a petrochemical plant in eastern Shandong province killed eight people and injured nine.


Sri Lanka expands visa-free scheme halted after bombings

Updated 52 min 36 sec ago
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Sri Lanka expands visa-free scheme halted after bombings

  • Sri Lanka initially projected a 30 percent dip in the number of foreign holidaymakers after the attacks
  • Sri Lanka welcomed a record 2.33 million tourists in 2018

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has re-introduced and expanded a visa-free entry scheme for visitors in a bid to revive its flagging tourism sector after the deadly Easter bombings, officials said Wednesday.
The concession for tourists from 39 nations was suspended after militants bombed three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo on April 21 killing 258 people, including 45 foreigners.
“As the security situation has improved, the cabinet of ministers decided to revive the visa-free scheme and also extended it to seven more countries,” the government said in a statement.
A tourism official said foreign governments have relaxed travel advisories for Sri Lanka since the attacks.
There has also been a lift in the number of arrivals, which nosedived soon after the bombings blamed on a home-grown militant group, the official said.
The new countries added to the expanded scheme — which already allows travelers from the European Union, Australia and the United States to enter Sri Lanka without a visa — include China and India.
Visitors still have to obtain a visa on arrival, but the government has waived the $35 fee from August 1.
Sri Lanka initially projected a 30 percent dip in the number of foreign holidaymakers after the attacks.
The following month the number of tourists plunged to 37,800, down from 166,975 in April, according to official figures.
But they improved last month with some 63,000 visitors, although numbers are still down from 146,828 in June 2018.
Sri Lanka welcomed a record 2.33 million tourists in 2018, and was named the world’s top travel destination for 2019 by the Lonely Planet travel guide.