A human rights watchdog said Wednesday the number of casualties in a gas plant explosion in east China's Shandong Province last week was underreported.
The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy quoted sources as saying 15 people died in the blast at Boxing Chengli Gas Supply Co. in Boxing County in Binzhou City, nearly double the official figure of nine deaths.
A 50,000-square-meter gas container in the plant exploded Oct. 8, shattering glass windows of some 3,000 residences within a 3 kilometer radius and sending 200 people to hospital, the Hong Kong-based center said.
Bloggers posting messages about the incident online either had their posts deleted or were threatened with legal consequences for spreading rumors, the center said.
Binzhou authorities issued a statement Tuesday saying five people were under criminal detention, allegedly in connection with the explosion and covering up the incident.
It confirmed nine people died and about 30 others were injured in the blast, an increase in casualties from earlier reports that quoted county officials as saying one of two seriously injured people died and five others suffered minor injuries.
The cause of explosion is being investigated but no information on damage was provided in the statement.