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China: at least seven dead in an explosion probably due to gas

A large explosion in a restaurant in China, undoubtedly caused by gas, killed at least seven people and caused significant damage to less than 50 kilometers from Beijing, according to state media.

The explosion occurred shortly before 8:00 a.m. (00:00 GMT) in Sanhe, a city located in the outer suburbs from where many residents commute every day to work in Beijing.

The explosion took place “in an old residential area”, state television CCTV reported, specifying that the presumed cause of the disaster was a gas leak in a fried chicken restaurant.< /p>

A report revised upwards in the evening shows at least seven dead and 27 injured, according to the official Chine Nouvelle agency. The previous toll was two dead and 26 injured.

Images on Chinese social media show a loud explosion followed by thick smoke and flames above a busy road during rush hour .

In other images, we see a collapsed building and several destroyed cars.

“I heard a huge explosion (…) It scared me very much,” a seller from a nearby market, who requested anonymity, told AFP.

– Journalists mistreated-

China: at least seven dead in an explosion probably due to gas

Firefighters at the scene of a gas explosion in Sanhe, a suburb of Beijing, March 13, 2024 © AFP – GREG BAKER

Another seller said he heard “a huge explosion” in this residential area made up of six or seven-story buildings.

A police cordon prevented journalists from approach the site of the explosion. Some were sometimes mistreated.

AFP was denied access to Jingdong Zhongmei Hospital where victims were transported.

< p>Reacting to the incidents, the China Journalists Association issued a statement on Wednesday titled “Appropriate interviews are a journalist's right” – a rare public show of support.

The explosion was so powerful that it blew away the facades of stores located on the other side of a wide street, according to a video shared on the social network Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

The author of the video told AFP that the explosion occurred 200 meters from his home.

A shopkeeper in a nearby store told local media that she heard a loud “bang”. She saw a burning building “practically destroyed”.

Rescue teams were immediately deployed with 36 emergency vehicles and 154 people mobilized, according to firefighters. A man identifying himself as head of security at the facility said staff were “busy treating patients” and that official permission was needed to speak to victims.

– Safety in question –

Fires or other accidents occur regularly in China, often due to insufficient safety standards.

This prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to issue “important instructions at the beginning of the year requiring that the number of accidents be resolutely limited”.

China: at least seven dead in an explosion probably due to gas

Firefighters and police vehicles near the site of a gas explosion in Sanhe, a suburb of Beijing, March 13, 2024. © AFP – GREG BAKER

In February, a fire in a residential building killed at least 15 people and injured 44 in Nanjing, eastern China, with the fire apparently starting where two people were -electric wheels.

The previous month, 39 people were killed in a fire at a store in the central province of Jiangxi.

Xi Jinping then called for lessons to be learned from the disaster to avoid further tragedies.

Five days earlier, 13 schoolchildren lost their lives in a fire in a dormitory of a boarding school.

Last June, an explosion in a restaurant in the northwest of China killed 31 people and prompted authorities to embark on a national campaign to promote workplace safety.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116