At least 12 people were killed and nearly 140 were injured in a gas line explosion in a residential area in central China's Hubei province on Sunday, local authorities said.
Relief operations are continuing, the disaster management office in Shiyan town, where the blast occurred around 6.30 a.m. (8.30 p.m. in France), said in a statement.
Witness videos showed several buildings in ruins and rescuers evacuating shocked survivors on stretchers.
#China 🇨🇳 11 dead and 37 seriously injured after gas explosion in Shiyan City, Hubei Province
A total of 144 people were rescued and hospitalized at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
- AsiaNews (@AsiaNews_FR) June 13, 2021
The explosion in particular devastated a vegetable market in the city where there were at that time a large number of traders and residents having their breakfast there, a witness told the official Global Times newspaper.
"I heard a huge bang and I immediately took shelter under the table, believing it was an earthquake," said a man managing a small restaurant near the site of the explosion.
An open investigation
The state-run CCTV broadcast footage of buildings with collapsed walls and shattered windows.
We see rescuers digging through the debris by hand, sometimes with a shovel.
An investigation has been opened to determine the causes of the explosion, the statement said.
The emergency management ministry also dispatched a team to the scene.
Massive gas explosion in Hubei pic.twitter.com/pOzyKXcvwb
- penanam anggur (@anthraxxxx) June 13, 2021
Industrial accidents are relatively frequent in China, due to poor compliance with safety rules and corruption within the services supposed to ensure their proper application. The explosion came the day after eight people died after a toxic product leaked from a chemical plant in Guiyang, in the southwest.