4 killed in China truck explosion

BEIJING: A truck carrying gunpowder to a fireworks factory exploded in central China, killing four people, destroying three vehicles and tearing up chunks of the highway, state media reported Sunday.

At least 35 people were also injured in Saturday's accident on the road near Xiaogan in Hubei province, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"The blast cut the road up to 10 metres long (yards) and one metre deep. More than 700 square metres of road surface were blown up," Zhang Liang, a Beijing-Zhuhai Highway Administration official, was quoted as saying.

The truck was carrying five tonnes of gunpowder from Liuyang in central Hunan province to a fireworks factory in northern Hebei province, the report said.

The truck's three occupants, including the owner of the cargo, were detained by police and the accident is under investigation, Xinhua said.

China has a huge fireworks industry that is notorious for its lax safety standards.

The central government has announced a number of campaigns in recent years to make the industry safer, but accidents, mostly at illegal or poorly run workshops, continue to occur due to the drive for profits.