21:08 GMT +315 December 2018
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    Firefighters work next to burnt vehicles following a blast near a chemical plant in Zhangjiakou.

    Death Toll From Blast Near Chem Plant in China's North Grows to 23 – Authorities

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    BEIJING, (Sputnik) – Twenty-three people died on Wednesday as a result of an explosion outside a chemical plant in the northern Chinese city of Zhangjiakou, the city’s authorities said.

    The blast that occurred just after midnight caused a heavy fire when a truck transporting hazardous chemicals exploded while entering the Haipo'er New Energy Technology company, near Hebei Shenghua Chemical Industry, a major chemical enterprise. Earlier reports suggested that 22 people were killed.

    'Twenty-three people became the victims in the incident, while 22 were injured, and 38 trucks and 12 cars burned down. Three people are in critical condition, and the lives of the rest are not in danger', a representative of the city government said.

    The spokesperson added that there was no environmental threat.

    'Immediately after the incident, experts found a high concentration of pollutants in the air. But at 11 a.m., when the fire was already extinguished, no environmental threat and pollution in the air was revealed', the representative stressed.

    The blast occurred earlier at 0:41 a.m. (16:41 on Tuesday GMT). The search and rescue operation, as well as the investigation into the causes of the explosion, are ongoing.

    READ MORE: Explosion Near Chemical Plant in China Kills 22, Injures 22 More (VIDEO)

    Zhangjiakou is one of the cities that will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games along with Beijing.

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