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China: Highway collapses after fireworks truck explodes (VIDEO)

At least eight people are dead after a truck carrying fireworks exploded on the G30 expressway in central China.

China expressway collapse 02 01 2013Enlarge
Rescuers work at the scene of the collapsed Yichang bridge near the city of Sanmenxia, in central China's Henan province, on February 1, 2013. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

At least eight people are dead after a truck carrying fireworks exploded on a raised highway in China's central Henan province Friday morning.

The blast caused a 260-foot section of the G30 expressway to collapse and sent at least six vehicles plummeting to the ground, about 100 feet below, China's state-run Xinhua news wire reported.

Photos showed cars and trucks lying in a heap, covered with the wreckage of the bridge and its concrete support pillars.

Rescuers continued to search for survivors into Friday afternoon. At least 13 people were found injured, according to state media reports.

State radio initially put the death toll at 26 but the report was later retracted, the Associated Press reported.

GlobalPost's senior correspondent covering China, Benjamin Carlson, says the accident's timing could hardly have been worse.

"It's an intensely sad story. This time of year is China's equivalent, broadly speaking, of Christmas, and fireworks play a huge part in Chinese New Year festivities," Carlson said.

Fireworks accidents have killed dozens in the past, leading to a national ban, he explained.

"One cause of speculation within China is the bridge collapse. The last several years have seen numerous bridge collapses due to shoddy construction throughout China, and while it's too soon to say for sure, the speculation has already begun that something similar may have happened here," Carlson said.

China's Ministry of Public Security has sent a team to investigate.

The G30 is China's longest expressway, running from Jiangsu Province in eastern China to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the far west.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/130201/china-highway-collapse-fireworks-truck-explosion