14 dead, 168 injured in China oil tanker explosion

Firefighters work at the site of the damaged buildings in Zhejiang yesterday. (AP pic)

BEIJING: At least 14 people were killed and more than 160 wounded after an oil tanker truck exploded on a highway in China on Saturday, state media said.

The force of the blast caused nearby homes and factories to collapse, the government said on social media, and sent huge clouds of black smoke billowing into the air as flames engulfed several cars.

Dramatic video footage of the accident near Wenling city in the eastern province of Zhejiang published by state media showed a huge ball of fire shooting into the air as people screamed.

In one clip, a large piece of debris is seen flying 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.

The death toll had risen from 10 to 14, state news agency Xinhua reported early Sunday, with 168 wounded.

Emergency responders were still carrying out search and rescue efforts, it added.

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

Deadly road accidents are common in China, where traffic regulations are often flouted or not enforced.

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

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

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