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Ethylene plant blasted
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Flames roar out of SINOPEC Maoming Company's ethylene plant on Tuesday, June 4, 2008. [Photo: dayoo.com]

A fire broke out on Tuesday night at SINOPEC Maoming Company's ethylene plant forcing the closure of two ethylene units with a total capacity of over one million tons per year, Reuters reports.

It was not immediately clear if anyone was injured or killed in the blaze in far southern China, which was likely caused by lightning, an industry source was quoted as saying.

The flames reached about 50 meters high, giving off thick smoke. More than a dozen fire trucks rushed to the site, while thousands living in nearby villages were evacuated in the rain, according to local media reports.

The fire was largely extinguished by late evening, though the vice mayor of Maoming and senior company officials still rushed to the site to supervise the work.

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