A powerful gas line explosion ripped through a residential neighbourhood in central China's Hubei Province on Sunday early morning, killing at least 12 people and injuring 150 others, including 39 critically.
The blast took place at about 6:30 am local time in the Zhangwan district of Shiyan city in Hubei province, killing 12 people and trapping a large number of people under the rubble of their homes.
Authorities have rescued nearly 150 people from the area, including 39 with serious injuries and rushed them to hospitals, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a thorough probe into the cause of the blast and ordered all-out efforts to rescue the injured.
In light of numerous accidents at companies and on campuses, all must work together to shoulder their responsibilities, strengthen their political comprehension and root out the causes of such hazards," Xi said.
Images and video footages circulating on social media platform Weibo showed rescue workers pulling out people from the wreckage of flattened houses.
The explosion, which took place at a two-story building built in the early 1990s that includes pharmacies, restaurants and other businesses, destroyed and affected residents in nearby buildings, state-run Global Times reported.
People from 913 households close to the explosion site have been evacuated, according to the local government.
"Hearing the loud bang, I immediately scrabbled beneath the table, thinking it was an earthquake," a resident surnamed Liu, who owns a small restaurant some 20 metres away from the explosion site, told the Global Times.
Liu was in his restaurant when the explosion took place. He recalled the scary moment when the floor was shaking and food ingredients on the table in the kitchen being "thrown onto the ground" by shockwaves.
A video of the explosion site published by the media outlet youth.cn showed the horrifying scenes of houses being ruined into big concrete chunks and piles of broken wood, and the air ticking with dust.
The walls of some buildings are blackened by the heat of the explosion.
Gas explosions, especially from poorly maintained pipelines, occur in various parts for China every year. The worst being the 2015 explosions in Tianjin port in which 173 people were killed and hundreds of others injured.
Sunday's explosion came a day after eight people died and three others were injured when toxic methyl formate leaked from a vehicle at a chemical handling facility in the southwestern city of Guiyang.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)