Tunnel blast kills 19 at Chinese construction site

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A blast in a tunnel killed 19 workers at a central Chinese highway construction site on Saturday, authorities said.

The explosion in Hunan province also injured one person, said two officials from the provincial work safety bureau who would only give their surnames, Li and Yang, a practice that is common among Chinese government employees.

The blast occurred when a vehicle was unloading explosives in the tunnel of the highway that is being built between Yanling and Rucheng in Hunan province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Accidents and explosions are common in China due to weak safety standards and lax building practices.

In November, a massive explosion near an expressway ramp in southwestern China killed at least seven people and injured about 200. That blast was caused by three explosives-laden vehicles that caught fire, also destroying a garage and a food warehouse.