Fireworks Truck Explodes Killing Nine In China

Mark Stone, China Correspondent
Fireworks Truck Explodes Killing Nine In China

Nine people have been killed after an explosion on a truck carrying fireworks caused a road bridge to collapse in central China.

The blast happened on the Yichang Bridge in Henan Province, injuring another 13 people, according to state media.

Photographs posted on social media just after the accident at 8.50am local time showed a large truck lying on its side way below the highway. 

Another photograph showed what appears to be a remarkable escape for other drivers with at least one vehicle seen balancing on the edge of the bridge.

Earlier, the state news agency had reported that as many as 26 people were killed. No reason was given for the discrepancy.

Up to 25 vehicles fell from the 30 metre bridge - six of which have been recovered - suggesting that the death toll could have been worse.

Details of exactly what happened are not clear but witnesses say they saw the truck explode and "about 10" cars blown off the bridge by the blast.

Six people are known to have died instantly in the accident. Others died of their injuries in nearby hospitals.

The Yichang Bridge forms part of a busy multi-lane highway in central China. Local media reports claim that the south side of the bridge collapsed completely and cracks have appeared on the northern carriageway.

If the details of the cause are confirmed to be correct, then the incident combines two tragically common themes in China: badly constructed bridges and an abundance of badly regulated fireworks.

Annually, fireworks form a central part of Chinese New Year which this year falls next weekend.

To a far greater extent than in Europe or America, revellers use fireworks to celebrate, sometimes paying little attention to safety.

A spate of accidents over many years has promoted the authorities to impose better controls on the manufacture, transport, sale and use of fireworks.

On January 18, a firework explosion destroyed a two-storey home in Hebei Province killing three people and injuring eleven.

For a period, the transport and use of fireworks was banned in the Chinese capital Beijing but regular appeals from the public forced officials to relent.

In 2009, the newly-built China Central Television Building in Beijing was gutted by fire. The cause was confirmed to be fireworks set off inside the building.

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