This is the moment a lorry filled 245,000 GBP of critical surgical mask materials goes up in flames on the side of a motorway.
The lorry became engulfed in flames just minutes after driver Mr Tao called the emergency services from the Shanghai-Kunming Expressway on 15th March.
The Quzhou fire service, in East China’s Zhejiang Province, dispatched two fire engines and 12 crew to the scene of the fire but could not suppress the blaze for more than an hour, the authorities reported.
The fire in the lorry cargo hold, where more than 2 million RMB (245,620 GBP) worth of nonwoven fabric and other materials were being stored, was eventually put out, but images show the raw goods completely charred.
According to Mr Tao, the fabric was picked up in the city of Yiwu, Zhejiang, and bound for a surgical mask factory in Dexing City, in neighbouring Jiangxi Province.
The entire shipment was lost, the fire service said.
Mr Tao told the authorities that he pulled over on the hard shoulder and called the fire service when he noticed smoke coming from his lorry.
The blaze quickly raged out of control before the fire crews arrived.
The cause of the fire is still unclear.
China, which produced half of all the world’s surgical masks in 2019, has ramped up production of the critical medical supply by 450 percent in a matter of weeks.
At the height of the coronavirus outbreak in China in early February, the Chinese ministry of industry revealed the country’s factories were working at full capacity while producing just 20 million masks per day.
By the month’s end, however, the National Development and Reform Commission – a state macroeconomic management agency – announced that the daily figure had jumped to 110 million, with the East Asian superpower set to make 10 times more masks than it did last year.
The increase in production is reportedly the result of more than 1,000 major and minor businesses in various sectors – including iPhone maker Foxconn and Chinese oil giant Sinopec – converting their factories into mask assembly lines.
But as the outbreak stabilises and demand in mainland China drops, businesses could be left with trillions of unsold masks, which have a thin profit margin, experts say.
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