Beijing (AFP) - Chinese media and Internet users voiced outrage after officials said the relatives of those killed in a chemical plant explosion were "calm" as they revealed a sharp rise in the toll.
State media said last week that five people had been killed when a fireball ripped through a chemical plant in Shandong province, just weeks after explosions in the northern port of Tianjin killed 161.
Officials in Shandong's Dongying city at the weekend said 13 had died, giving no explanation for the delay, but adding that "the relatives of the victims are all calm now".
Death tolls from accidents are often the subject of suspicion in China, where officials have in the recent past sought to cover up the full extent of disasters.
China's state news agency Xinhua on Monday weighed in by calling the government statement -- which was later deleted -- "cold blooded".
"How could the relatives calm down when they knew that their relatives had been blasted into pieces?" Xinhua said. "Please speak like human beings, officials!"
Internet users also expressed outrage.
"Officials only thought about stability. Even though these people's relatives died, the government thought: they are not making a fuss, so they must be calm," novelist Xia Hanzi wrote on social networking site Sina Weibo.
The explosion in China's eastern Shandong province on August 2, 2015 left 13 dead.
Widespread public anger over the deadly explosions in Tianjin has led to promises to improve China's patchy commitment to industrial safety, says the BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing.
Last week, an inspection of places storing hazardous chemicals in Beijing unearthed safety issues at 85 out of 124 sites, resulting in two emergency factory closures.
The explosion at the Runxing chemical factory occurred just before 21:00 local (12:00 GMT) on Saturday, August 22, triggering a fire.
Windows shattered at the scene of the blast and vibrations could be felt 2km from the site.
About 150 firefighters and 20 fire engines fought the blaze, Xinhua said.
The state-run Beijing Times said the Runxing plant contained adiponitrile - a colourless liquid that releases poisonous gases when burned.
Howard Zhang of BBC Chinese says that the blasts at Shandong and Tianjin have taken on a political significance and threaten to overshadow China's celebrations of the 70th anniversary of its victory over Japan in World War Two.
The operators of the Tianjin site are being investigated for allowing dangerous chemicals to be stored too close to homes.