Update: 4 killed, 47 injured in gas explosion in NE China’s Liaoning, accident under investigation

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Photo: CFP

At least four people were killed and 47 injured in a gas explosion in a restaurant in Shenyang, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province on Thursday.Among the 47 injured, 3 were in critical condition. The injured have all been sent to hospitals and an investigation is underway. Policemen, firemen and employees from the emergency, health, urban construction, gas and other relevant departments all arrived at the scene quickly. The local authorities have arranged 36 hotels to relocate affected residents.

Photo: CFP
According to an online video recorded on the spot, both sides of the road were reduced to rubble and fragments of the explosion were scattered all around, with smoke rising immediately about 10 meters high. Nearby buildings have all been destroyed. Three floors of one building nearby were totally damaged, and some residents affected by the explosion had dust on their heads and faces, and some were bleeding, based on the videos.

A Shenyang resident who requested anonymity told the Global Times that her workplace is about 100 meters from the explosion site and she was having her breakfast when the blast took place.

The windows of the opposite building were shattered following the huge explosion, and the roll-up door of her workplace was deformed by the shockwaves. The inside of her office was soon filled with dust.

The police arrived immediately to tell her and people living in the neighborhood to evacuate, and before long firefighting vehicles and ambulances also came.

The accident drew wide attention from Chinese netizens. As of press time, the topic related to the accident had received over 590 million reads on the platform of Chinese-twitter like Sina Weibo, with many showing their sympathy and sending best wishes to the injured, as well as showing respect to people working in the rescue operation.

“Hope there will be no more casualties. Hope the related authorities will strengthen the publicity of the potential risks and enforce inspections to prevent further accidents,” one netizen wrote.

The explosion triggered netizens’ questions over whether a country-wide safety inspection is needed.

It’s not the first time there has been such a serious gas explosion in China. A deadly gas explosion in Shiyan, Central China’s Hubei Province took the lives of 26 people and injured 138 others on June 13 this year. It caused direct economic losses of up to 53.95 million yuan ($8.45 million), and 34 public servants related to the accident were penalized.

Another witness told the Global Times the explosion site has been cordoned off, and many police officers and firefighters are maintaining order there. Electricity for many stores in the neighborhood has been also affected.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has sent a working group to the site.

The explosion damaged power lines, leaving 15,000 homes nearby without power, according to media reports. Over 30 employees from the power supply company have arrived at the scene for emergency maintenance.

So far, over 100 firemen and 25 firefighting trucks have been deployed to the rescue operation.

A bus nearby was also affected. The bus company later confirmed it was scrapped.

On Wednesday night, a nearby gas line was under maintenance and gas operation had been suspended in the restaurant. On Thursday morning, gas operation was resumed, according to media reports. But it’s unclear whether the maintenance operation was related to the explosion.