Explosions in fireworks workshops in China killed 13

A series of explosions ripped through fireworks workshops in southern China, killing 13 people, a local official and the government's Xinhua News Agency said Friday.

An initial blast occurred late afternoon Thursday, spreading to six other workshops at the Jiangnan Fireworks Plant in Hunan province' Anhua county, Xinhua said.

Workshops were reduced to rubble and an area of around 500 square meters (5,400 square feet) was obliterated, the report said.

A spokesman for the Anhua county industrial safety commission said one person remained in critical condition, the AP reports.

The accident's cause was under investigation and no other details were being released, said the man, who like many Chinese bureaucrats refused to be identified by name.

Xinhua said the county originally had 17 fireworks factories, but eight had already been closed due to safety concerns.

Fireworks production is a major source of revenue in many poor parts of China, but poor safety standards routinely lead to accidents.

The accident came just days after the circulation of a notice from the central government urging strengthened management over fireworks production, storage, transport, sales and use.

Among the demands of the Sept. 14 document was for standardized design of factories and warehouses to feature firefighting equipment and tougher crackdowns on illegal fireworks production and storage.

Fireworks have been used for centuries in China to mark auspicious occasions such as weddings and business openings.

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