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Toddler in critical condition after China blast

Associated Press

BEIJING — Doctors in eastern China were trying Monday to save the life of a 2-year-old boy who was seriously injured in a weekend factory explosion that killed 16 people, state media reported.

The blast early Sunday destroyed three buildings of a factory producing quartz sand in Anhui province and left 43 injured, a statement on the State Administration of Work Safety’s Web site said.

Police detained two factory employees as suspects in the blast, the official Xinhua News Agency said. State television reported that five tons of explosives had been illegally stored at the private factory.

The boy, Li Zhenwei, remains in critical condition, Xinhua reported. It said he was living with his grandfather in a company dormitory. The grandfather died in the blast.

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Calls to the Anhui Health Bureau rang unanswered Monday.

A 23-year-old male worker and a 60-year-old man were also seriously injured and remained in stable condition, according to Xinhua. The condition of the remaining injured was still unclear.

Police detained two suspects, including Cao Peijun, the company’s lawyer, after he allegedly withdrew nearly $300,000 from a bank after the blast. They also detained Cao’s son, one of the company’s senior managers, who turned himself in Sunday afternoon, according to Xinhua.

The local deputy mayor, Wang Tuqiang, said the factory had illegally stockpiled about five tons of explosives on its premises and police are investigating how the explosives were detonated, according to a report by state broadcaster CCTV.

The explosion ripped through two office buildings and a workers’ dormitory, causing them to collapse, the report said. Rescuers lowered listening devices into the rubble to search for survivors, but the report said there were no signs of life.

Factory accidents are common in China, with thousands dying every year in part because of lax enforcement of safety rules and poor training.

The administration’s statement said the factory is owned by Jingxin Mining Ltd. Co., a private company.

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