Eight people were killed during a gas pipeline leak at an ironworks in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, on Monday morning, according to a statement released by the city government on Monday afternoon.
A total of 18 workers fell ill after they were poisoned in the accident which took place in the ironworks factory of SGIS Songshan Co, a Shenzhen-listed company, at about 3 am, said the statement.
The conditions of the other 10 victims has since stabilized after they received emergency treatment in hospital. All deaths were local workers from the ironworks factory.
Shen Mingli, an official with the information office of the city government, said relevant departments immediately arrived on the scene and organized rescue procedures soon after they were reported.
"A special task force has also been set up to focus on investigating the case further, and the findings will be made public," Shen told China Daily on Monday.
The task force mainly consists of government officials and experts from both the Guangdong provincial government and the Shaoguan city government, Shen said.
But Shen did not reveal more details of the deadly accident, saying the cause of the tragedy is still unknown.
The accident raised major concerns with both provincial and Shaoguan city governments as it happened ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, a time when millions of Chinese return home to spend the festival with family. The holiday begins on Feb 15 this year.
The city government has urged relevant departments to introduce concrete and effective measures to prevent similar cases from happening again in the city. Shaoguan, which borders Hunan province, is a major industrial production base which has attracted many migrant workers.
It is the second deadly gas leak accident in the country within a week.
On Jan 31, nine were killed in another gas pipeline leak in Liupanshui in Guizhou province. The tragedy took place while the boilers of a 60,000-kilowatt generating unit of Shougang Shuicheng Iron and Steel (Group) Co were being overhauled. Only two of the 11 persons who were poisoned were rescued.