There is little respite for Shanghai's 26 million people as one apocalyptic-like situation shifted to another.
Many in the mega city in northeastern China earlier this year felt like it was the end of the world as a widespread Covid outbreak meant residents were locked down indefinitely with little sign of freedom to come.
Streets were disturbingly empty as authorities strictly implemented China's relentless Covid-zero strategy.
And while residents have been granted freedoms in recent weeks as Covid cases dropped dramatically, a fatal fire at Sinopec's Shanghai Petrochemical plant on Saturday has brought back apocalyptic scenes more suited to the big screen.
Remarkable video has gone viral on Chinese social media showing Shanghai's skyline filled with black smoke.
Roaring fire was seen engulfing part of a sprawling factory, emitting endless columns of smoke.
Footage circulating of the fire at a petrochemical plant in #China is eerie end-of-the-world stuff. It’s now been brought under control but at least one death. It started in #Shanghai area at 4am today. Gotta be pretty toxic air too. pic.twitter.com/ubrdJNqgsm
— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) June 18, 2022
Australian journalist Stephen McDonell, the BBC's China correspondent, said the video was "eerie end-of-the-world stuff".
Many online compared the scenes to sci-fi and disaster movies as well as computer games such as Doom Eternal.
Driver killed in blaze
The fire at one of China's biggest refining and petrochemicals plants started around 4am (local time) and had been brought under control by 9am but "was difficult to handle," state media Xinhua reported, citing fire officials.
The driver of a third-party transport vehicle died in the fire and a company employee suffered a minor injury, said a Sinopec representative.
He said the fire affected the ethylene glycol facility at the plant in Jinshan, a southwestern suburb of China's financial capital.
Shanghai Petrochemical said on its official Weibo account it will cooperate with a government investigation into the accident. The shutdown will not have a significant impact on the market, it said.
The company said it had found no impact on the surrounding water.
The plant has processing capacity for 16 million tonnes of crude oil a year and 700,000 tonnes of ethylene, according to its website.
- With Reuters
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