Four dead, 50 injured in China oil truck blast

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Four people were killed and more than 50 injured after an oil tanker truck exploded on a highway near Wenling in east China on Saturday, the local government said.

The impact of the blast caused some nearby rural homes and factories to collapse, according to a government announcement on social media, and sent huge clouds of black smoke billowing into the air as flames engulfed several cars on and near the highway.

The accident happened at 4:40pm on the expressway outside Wenling city, Zhejiang province, the notice said.

Dramatic video footage published by state media showed a huge ball of fire shooting into the air as people screamed.

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In one clip, a large piece of debris shoots into the air before crashing onto some nearby buildings.

Another video shows the remains of the tanker and several truck tyres smashed into a building which had been reduced to rubble.

Emergency responders were still battling to free trapped victims Saturday evening, and injured people had been sent to hospital for treatment, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Multiple highway exits were closed, according to local police statements on social media.

READ ALSO:China sentences Australian to death for drug trafficking

Deadly road accidents are common in China, where traffic regulations are often flouted or go unenforced.

According to authorities 58,000 people were killed in accidents across the country in 2015 alone, the last available figures.

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Violations of traffic laws were blamed for nearly 90 percent of accidents that caused deaths or injuries that year.

Last year at least 36 people died and 36 others were injured in eastern China when a packed coach with a flat tyre collided with a truck.

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