At least 12 people were killed and 39 seriously injured on Sunday after a gas line exploded in a residential area in central China.
Responders to the morning explosion in Shiyan City, Hubei Province, sent more than 150 people to hospital, according to a statement on the city’s official social media channel.
The statement said rescue efforts were continuing but gave no word on the cause of the explosion.
Stalls and customers buying breakfast and fresh vegetables at a food market were the main victims of the explosion shortly after 6 a.m., according to state media.
Photos showed rescuers scaling broken concrete slabs to reach those trapped inside.
The explosion appeared to be similar to that which occurred in the northeastern port of Qingdao in 2013, in which 55 people were killed when underground pipes opened as a result of a leak.
The Shiyan explosion came a day after eight people were killed and three others were injured when poisonous methyl formate leaked from a vehicle at a chemical handling facility in Guiyang City, KwaZulu-Natal. the southwest of the country.
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Frequent fatalities are generally attributed to poor adherence to safety standards, poor maintenance and corruption of enforcement agencies. Those responsible are often severely punished, but the high demand and desire for profit often outweigh such concerns.
Among the worst accidents was a massive explosion in 2015 at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police. The explosion was blamed on illegal construction and dangerous storage of volatile materials.