BEIJING At least 12 people were killed and nearly 140 others injured when a gas line exploded in a residential compound in central China’s Hubei province on Sunday, local officials said.
Rescue workers are uncertain how many people may still be trapped under the debris, according to a statement from the disaster management bureau in the city of Shiyan. Videos shot by witnesses and verified by Beijing News show several buildings reduced to rubble and rescuers carrying shocked survivors on stretchers. The blast ripped through a vegetable market that was filled with shoppers and people eating breakfast, an eyewitness told state-run Global Times.
“I heard a loud bang and immediately ducked under the table, thinking it was an earthquake,” a man who owns a small restaurant near the explosion site told the newspaper.
State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of buildings with charred walls and shattered windows.
Rescuers were seen lifting large slabs to pull out those trapped underneath.
The blast occurred in a two-story building that earlier housed a vehicle frame manufacturer. Several survivors told local media that the gas pipeline had fallen into disrepair after the factory was moved last year. In a rare move, Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a statement urging local officials to “learn profound lessons from the incident” and double down on efforts to prevent such incidents.