Huge blast kills one, injures 22 in northern China

Huge blast kills one, injures 22 in northern China
Huge blast kills one, injures 22 in northern China

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A dashcam view shows the moment of an explosion in Sanhe, Langfang City, Hebei Province, China in this screen grab from video obtained by Reuters March 13, 2024. — Video obtained by Reuters

SANHE, March 13 — A huge suspected gas explosion killed one person and injured 22 more in northern China’s Hebei province on Wednesday, state media reported, with social media videos showing severe damage to buildings.

The blast took place just before 8am (0000 GMT), state broadcaster CCTV said, in a residential area in the city of Sanhe, less than 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of the capital Beijing.

One person died and 22 were left injured, the broadcaster said, adding the explosion was suspected to have been caused by a gas leak at a fried chicken shop.

“An explosion occurred at the ground floor restaurant in an old residential area,” CCTV said, adding that the injured had been taken to hospital.

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“The current situation of casualties is unknown,” CCTV added.

An AFP reporter at the scene observed police officers waving oncoming traffic away from an entrance to the neighbourhood where the explosion occurred.

Footage online circulated by state media showed a huge explosion that sent plumes of smoke and fire across a busy road during morning rush hour.

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Another video on social media showed what appeared to be a building that had completely collapsed and several destroyed cars.

Rescue workers rushed to the scene, state media said, while the local Langfang fire department said 36 emergency vehicles and 154 personnel had been dispatched to the scene.

“The fire is currently under effective control, and rescue work is being carried out urgently,” the Langfang fire department said.

A merchant working at a nearby store told state-run Jimu News she had been in her shop when she heard a “bang”.

She ran out of her store and saw a building on fire, she said, adding that “the whole building was virtually destroyed”.

Accidents common

Explosions and other deadly accidents are common in China due to lax safety standards and poor enforcement.

And the country has seen a spate of deadly accidents in recent months, often caused by official negligence — prompting calls from President Xi Jinping for “deep reflection” and greater efforts to “curb the frequent occurrence of safety accidents”.

Last month, at least 15 people were killed and 44 injured in a fire at a residential building in the eastern city of Nanjing.

In January, dozens died after a fire broke out at a store in the central city of Xinyu, with state news agency Xinhua reporting the blaze had been caused by the “illegal” use of fire by workers in the store’s basement.

That fire came just days after a late-evening blaze at a school in central Henan province killed 13 schoolchildren as they slept in a dormitory.

Domestic media reports suggested the fire was caused by an electric heating device.

And in November last year, 26 people were killed and dozens sent to hospital after a fire at a coal company office in northern China’s Shanxi province.

Last June, an explosion at a barbecue restaurant in the northwest of the country left 31 dead and prompted official pledges of a nationwide campaign to promote workplace safety. — AFP

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