Student killed in chemistry lab blast

Updated: 2015-12-19 08:08

By Wang Yanfei(China Daily)

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A postdoctoral student was killed by a chemical explosion in a laboratory at Tsinghua University in Beijing on Friday morning.

The blast occurred on the second floor of Ho Tim Building, where graduate and postdoctoral students from Department of Chemistry conduct research.

"I heard a loud sound while I was in the dormitory, and I later saw black smoke coming from the building," a student surnamed Chen told Beijing News.

A teacher at the scene told The Mirror on condition of anonymity that the blast victim was Meng Xiangjian, 32, who was working with Tert-butyl lithium, a highly flammable compound that spontaneously burns upon exposure to air.

All the other students and faculty members in the lab building were safely evacuated after the explosion.

A strong odor lingered in the air hours after the fire was put out in the afternoon.

Min Guisen, a sophomore chemistry major at the university, said: "We have strict guidelines and standard operating procedures for every experiment we conducted in class. We conduct our experiments under the guidance of either a professor or a professor's research assistant."

Min said that hazardous chemicals are carefully stored in the building and cannot be used without permit.

Fan Qing, a researcher at the Institute of Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said, "Certain hazards will be found in individual experiments, but, in general, fire and explosions are preventable if all necessary steps have been taken."

An investigation is underway.

In 2009, an unnamed research associate died from burns received in a similar accident at a UCLA laboratory in Los Angeles, California.

 Student killed in chemistry lab blast

A research building burns after an explosion in the Department of Chemistry at Tsinghua University at about 10 am on Friday. One postdoctorate student was killed in the blast, which is under investigation. Provided to China Daily

(China Daily 12/19/2015 page3)