A truck laden with fireworks exploded on an elevated highway in central China, killing at least nine people and injuring 13. The force of the blast sent several vehicles plummeting off the road, destroying an 80-meter section of the highway.
Salvage teams are currently at the scene of the incident on the G30 expressway in China’s Henan province. The blast took place at 8:52am local time (00:52 GMT), Chinese state news outlet Xinhua reported, citing local officials.
The massive explosion threw six vehicles into a ravine 30 meters below the raised highway; the survivors were retrieved by emergency teams.
Accidents involving fireworks are relatively commonplace in China around the run up to the Chinese New Year, which will take place on February 10. Enormous quantities of fireworks are transported throughout China, often under unsafe conditions to meet public demand in preparation for the public holiday.
The Ministry of Public Security dispatched a team to the site of the explosion to establish the cause of the blast, Xinhua reported.
In 2006, a fireworks storeroom exploded in Henan province, killing 36 people.
The highway accident has once again drawn attention to Chinese road safety, which has recently been under discussion. Earlier this month, the Chinese government delayed plans to introduce harsher punishments for traffic violations after complaints from the public.
Fatal road accidents are quite common in China. In 2011, over 60,000 people died on China’s roads in accidents that were largely attributed to lax safety regulations.