Nine dead after fireworks on lorry explode and cause bridge collapse

At LEAST nine people died when fireworks for New Year celebrations exploded on a lorry in central China, destroying part of an elevated motorway and sending vehicles plummeting 100ft to the ground.

Some 25 vehicles were buried in the collapse, said the official Xinhua News Agency. Nine people were confirmed dead and another 13 injured, including four in a serious condition.

A 260-ft stretch of the major east-west highway collapsed in Mianchi county in Henan province. It scattered blackened chunks of debris and shattered the windows of a nearby truck stop. A lorry driver who was just feet from the explosion, said: “I heard a huge bang and immediately braked. I saw small fireballs falling down one by one.” The windscreen of his lorry was smashed by the impact of the blast.

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“I then heard the sounds of clanking and exploding for five to six minutes,” the driver said. “My face was covered in dust.”

There was no immediate word on the cause of the explosion. Fireworks play a huge part of Chinese Lunar New Year festivities. To meet the demand, fireworks are made, shipped and stored in large quantities, sometimes in unsafe conditions.