March 13, 2014 3:56 AM EDT

Details about a massive explosion inside a highway tunnel in northern China’s Shanxi province, claiming at least 31 lives, have emerged two weeks after the incident occurred.

Initial reports on March 1 mentioned six people missing and 12 injured, but only on Thursday afternoon did state media divulge the true, astounding death toll and what apparently transpired. The explosion was reportedly triggered by a rear-end collision between two methanol tankers in a 800-meter tunnel close to Jincheng. Nine people are still missing.

State-controlled news agencies Xinhua and China News Service didn’t question whether the silent treatment was an attempt by officials to cover up a potentially riling story just before the National People’s Congress, which began on March 5.


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