8 dead or missing in explosion at Chinese fireworks workshop

State media say an explosion at a fireworks workshop in a rural area of northern China has killed or left missing eight people and injured 16.

Xinhua News Agency says the explosion on Saturday afternoon destroyed the workshop and damaged about a dozen homes in Yanzihe village in Hebei province.

Xinhua said Sunday that two people were killed and six were missing. One person suffered severe eye injuries and 15 others bruises.

It said the villager who owns the workshop was allegedly involved in illegal storage and production of fireworks, citing police.

China is five weeks away from Lunar New Year celebrations, the key time for setting off fireworks in the country. There are often reports of fireworks-related incidents in the weeks leading to the holiday.