Nine killed, 40 injured in Xian blast
At least nine people were killed and almost 40 injured yesterday in a massive explosion - apparently triggered by a gas leak at a small fast-food restaurant - in Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province, local media reported.
The force of the blast shattered windows in buildings several kilometres away, cnwest.com, a Xian-based news portal affiliated with the province's publicity department, reported.
Seven of the 40 people hurt are being treated for life-threatening injuries.
Many of the victims were children who had been walking past the building on their way to school at about 7.30am.
Xinhua reported that a preliminary investigation showed the explosion was an accident triggered by leaking liquefied petroleum gas, but further investigations were under way.
A Xian government spokesman told Xinhua that rescue work ended at about 11am, with all the injured sent to local hospitals for treatment.
According to a patient list from Shaanxi Provincial People's Hospital released by the news website, Wang Miao, an eight-year-old girl, was among the dead, with eight women, most in their 20s, and Gong Yejian, an 11-year-old schoolboy, undergoing treatment.
The number of victims admitted by other hospitals remained unclear.
Quoting witnesses in Xian as saying that most of the wounded were passers-by, cnwest.com added that numerous vehicles and shops nearby had been severely damaged.
However, Guo Weihua, a young woman who works for a hotel about 50 metres from the scene, said by phone that the hotel remained open and business had only been slightly affected.
'When I arrived at 9am, I saw the scene had already been sealed off,' Guo said.
'I have been hearing the sirens of fire engines, police vehicles and ambulances all day long.'
Shaanxi party secretary Zhao Leji and Governor Zhao Zhenyong pledged to do all they could for the injured.
It was at least the second massive, deadly blast on the mainland this month.
On November 1, a blast involving two trucks carrying 72 tonnes of explosives from neighbouring Hunan province left nine people dead and more than 200 injured in Guizhou province.