Illegally Stored Explosives Reportedly Kill 41 in China

From Times Wire Services

Explosives illegally stored at a home blew up in central China on Monday, killing 41 people and injuring 89 others, the official New China News Agency said. In addition, a dozen people were reportedly buried under rubble.

Police were searching for a man who moved the explosives to his brother's house in the village of Mafang in the central province of Shaanxi after officials shut down his illegal explosives factory in April, the news agency said.

Officials in Mafang and surrounding Hengshan county could not be reached for comment.

It was unclear whether any of the 12 people reportedly buried by the blast were alive.

The report did not give the quantity of the explosives or explain why the death toll was so high. It was possible that, as in many Chinese villages, the homes were built close to one another.

Explosives are widely used in China to remove rocks from farm fields, clear construction sites and illegally mine for coal, among other uses. The chemicals are cheap, and making explosives illegally is a popular and lucrative business.

In March, homemade bombs exploded by a man bearing a grudge against family members and neighbors leveled several buildings in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, killing 108 people.

The government executed the man accused of setting off the blast and imposed a crackdown on unlicensed explosives makers.

Also in March, an explosion leveled a schoolhouse in the southern province of Jiangxi, killing 42 teachers and students.

The government blamed the school explosion on a deranged bomber, but parents said the students had been forced to make fireworks by school administrators.

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