Four killed in northern China gas explosion

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A gas explosion at a restaurant ripped through a busy street in a major Chinese city on Thursday, killing at least four people and injuring dozens, local authorities said.

Dramatic footage from a nearby car’s dashboard camera, published by state media, showed a large cloud of smoke and dust erupting over the street as people ran to safety.

State broadcaster CCTV showed windows ripped out of several buildings in a street coated with dust and debris in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province in northern China.

Rescuers found four people dead and 47 injured, and the cause of the explosion is under investigation, the Shenyang government said in a social media statement.

The statement said the city was launching a gas safety campaign in response to the accident to “comprehensively eliminate risks and hidden dangers” and vowed to “strictly hold to account” those found responsible.

Ambulances and fire engines lined the street after the blast as workers towed away destroyed cars and a smashed-in bus, the CCTV footage showed.

The blast occurred Thursday morning on the residential street, which is lined with businesses, official news agency Xinhua said.

Rescue work was still ongoing.

Investigators have “preliminarily determined that the explosion occurred within a commercial and residential building,” Liaoning’s emergency response authority said in a social media post.

Photos published by the emergency services showed rescuers in hard hats surrounded by debris as stunned passersby were seen shaking shards of glass off their clothes.

Gas explosions are common in China due to weak safety standards and poor enforcement.

A blast in June killed 25 people and injured more than a hundred others when a gas line exploded in a residential compound in central China’s Hubei province.

Eight people, including the general manager of the company that owned the gas pipe, were later detained after authorities found “unsound” safety practices and serious defects in the pipe.

© Agence France-Presse