BEIJING (AFP) - An explosion at a cement plant in southern China on Monday killed at least seven people, state media said, the latest in a string of industrial accidents in the rapidly developing country. The blast occurred at the Hailuolongshan cement plant in Yingde city, the official Xinhua news agency said. “According to preliminary information, there are already seven, eight people dead,” a local government official was quoted as saying. The incident was now under investigation, the report said. Another Yingde government official, reached by AFP, declined to comment. Earlier this month, an explosion ripped through a family-owned lock workshop operating illegally in eastern Zhejiang province, killing 13 people and injuring 14.

In June, explosions ripped through two fireworks factories - at least one operating illegally - killing 14 people and injuring 13 in separate incidents.

Safety standards are regularly flouted in China, and workplace accidents remain common despite repeated pledges by the government to improve regulations and oversight.