At least 12 people died and 39 were seriously injured on Sunday after a gas explosion hit a downtown residential neighborhood China.
Response teams to the morning explosion in Shiyan City, Hubei Province, sent more than 150 people to the hospital, according to officials quoted by state media.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.
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Stall owners and shoppers buying breakfast and fresh vegetables at a food market were the most victims when the explosion took place shortly after 6 am, according to reports. The explosion hit a two-story building built in the early 1990s, which includes pharmacies, restaurants and other businesses. More than 900 people were evacuated from the area.
The footage showed rescuers climbing over broken concrete slabs to reach people trapped inside.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a thorough investigation into the cause of the explosion in order to create a “good atmosphere” for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party on July 1st.
“In light of the numerous accidents at businesses and campuses, everyone must work together to shoulder their responsibilities, strengthen their political understanding and eradicate the causes of such dangers,” Xi told the official Xinhua news agency.
Shiyan’s explosion came a day after eight people died and three were injured when toxic methyl formate leaked from a vehicle at a chemical-handling facility in the southwestern city of Guiyang.
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The explosion looked similar to one that took place at the port of Qingdao, in the northeast of the country, in 2013, in which 55 people died when underground pipelines tore apart after a leak.
Frequent fatalities are generally attributed to poor adherence to safety standards, poor maintenance and corruption among enforcement agencies. Those responsible are often severely punished, but high demand and the desire for profits often outweigh these concerns.
Among the worst accidents was a massive explosion in 2015 at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin, which killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police. The explosion was attributed to illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials.
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