Three graduate students are dead after an explosion occurred at Beijing’s Jiaotong University at around 9.30am on December 26. According to the Beijing Fire Department, the explosion occurred at a lab facility located in Haidian District that’s used by the university’s environmental engineering department.
According to the Beijing Fire Department, the explosion took place as three graduate students were conducting an experiment on wastewater treatment. Soon after the blast, videos and pictures of black smoke and flames rising from the facility started circulating on social media. Students who were taking a test in an adjacent building at the time of the explosion were reportedly evacuated without suffering any injuries.
The laboratory facility in flames on December 26. Screengrab via Xinhua News
After the deployment of eight fire crews and 30 fire engines by the Beijing Fire Department, the flames were brought under control by 10.20am. Soon after, Beijing News reported that the incident produced casualties.
The Beijing Fire Department notice released on the day of the incident. Screengrab via @北京消防/Weibo
On the evening of December 26, Beijing Jiaotong University released a statement to mourn the victims and confirm that an investigation into the causes of the incident is underway. The school also pledged it will “severely assess responsibilities in accordance to the law.”
Since then, though, more worrying details have emerged. According to online news platform Meiri Renwu, one of the deceased students – along with other classmates – had openly worried about the dangerous amount of flammable substances stacked inside the laboratory some time before the explosion took place. Their supervisor, identified in the Meiri Renwu report as Prof. Li, was allegedly storing up to 30 barrels of magnesium powder, together with large amounts of sodium phosphate and various catalysts, in the laboratory where the deadly blast took place. According to the report, another university student who frequently used the lab called the local Environmental Protection Bureau the day before the experiment, on December 25, to report Prof. Li’s dangerous stockpile.
While the online community’s attention has focused on identifying the individuals responsible for the explosion, as of December 28 no new information on the cause of the disaster has been made available to either the public or the victim’s parents, according to Meiri Renwu.
Image via CCTV News/Weibo
The tragic incident occurred just days after an explosion at a Suzhou residential complex killed three people.
[Cover image: screengrab via Xinhua News]