Six people were killed in an explosion in a biotech plant in central China last Wednesday.
The explosion, which is still being investigated, happened at Xumei Biotech Co. Ltd. in Weishi County, part of China’s Henan Province. Five people were killed instantly and another died at the hospital, China’s news agency Xinhua said. Additionally, five other people are receiving medical treatment at the local hospital. One of those patients is in critical condition, Xinhua reported.
According to a report from Beijing News, a double deck tank exploded Wednesday night and trapped the six people in a workshop at Xumei Biotech. By the time the fire from the explosion had been put out by first responders, five employees had expired. The sixth was in critical condition and died later at the hospital.
The head of the company had been detained by authorities as part of the investigation. It is unclear if the detention was a routine part of the investigative procedure in that country or if he was suspected of malfeasance of some kind.
This is not the first biotech workplace explosion that has caused death or injury of employees. Earlier this month, two Chinese nationals were killed in an explosion at a Puslin Biotechnologies facility in India. The two Chinese employees, along with an Indian employee, were repairing an oven used to dry the company’s products when the explosion occurred, in-Pharmatechnologist reported. The chief product developed by Puslin is used to improve joint function and slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
In April, 10 people were killed and about a dozen were injured in an explosion at Qilu Tianhe Huishi Pharmaceuticals in China. Qilu Tianhe Huishi Pharmaceuticals is a generic drugmaker. The explosion resulted due to maintenance work being conducted on underground piping, in-Pharmatechnologist reported, citing Chinese news agencies. The pipe was being welded and the heat from the process ignited gas, which caused the explosion.
In March, a chemical plant explosion in China killed 62 people. That explosion created some ripple effects in the pharmaceutical ingredients supply chain for Swiss-based Lonza. Sales stagnated as a result. According to Reuters, the company “blamed raw material shortages and supply-chain disruptions from the March 21 chemical plant explosion.”
In 2015, a GlaxoSmithKline plant in China was rocked by explosions that took the lives of 165 people, according to Reuters. Months later, the Tianjin facility was rocked by a different kind of explosion. The European Medicines Agency recommended that products from that facility be banned from Europe until the factory was able to deal with long-term manufacturing problems. Prior to the August 2015 explosions, regulators from Europe found a ” critical deficiency” tied to the manufacturing process. That deficiency raised questions as to whether or not the drugs developed at the site were fit for market.
Following reports of a series of explosions at a chemical factory in China, the world’s largest chemical supplying country, Reuters reported that China’s “breakneck pace of economic growth during the last decade has resulted in a spate of industrial accidents.”