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China fireworks blasts kill 29

From CNN Producer Steven Jiang

Rescue workers carry a wounded victim to a hospital.
Rescue workers carry a wounded victim to a hospital.

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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Explosions ripped through a fireworks factory in northern China, killing at least 29 people and injuring more than 140, local officials said.

"The fire has been put out, but rescuers are still on the scene searching for survivors and pulling buried bodies out of the wreckage," a fire official told CNN.

"Some people in the hospitals suffered severe burns, others have lost their limbs."

State media reported that the injured were taken to the three hospitals, as well as to medical facilities in the nearby provincial capital of Shijiazhuang, about 280 km (175 miles) southwest of Beijing.

The blasts took place Monday evening at the Guoxi Fireworks Factory in Wangkou township in northern Hebei province.

"The factory was full at the time with more than 100 people still at work," the fire official said. "There was one big initial blast and several smaller explosions afterwards."

"One explosion occurred just after the firefighters arrived and a subsequent one may have wounded or killed some firefighters," he said.

The explosions destroyed the main workshop at the factory, while severely damaging an office building more than 300 feet away, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported, adding that the cause is still under investigation.

Fatal blasts have been a regular occurrence at China's fireworks factories, many of which are small-scale plants where most of the manufacturing is done by hand.

The privately-run factory received its production permit from local police in December 2000.

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