Devastating explosion in China’s Hebei province, 2 killed, 26 injured

Two people were killed and more than 26 were injured in a massive explosion on Wednesday at a restaurant in northern China’s Hebei province. The explosion occurred during rush hour just before 8:00 a.m. (0000 GMT) and is suspected to have been caused by a gas leak. The explosion occurred in a residential area in Sanhe city of Hebei province, less than 50 kilometers from the capital Beijing, according to state broadcaster CCTV. It also said the blast was suspected to have occurred at a fried chicken shop in the city.

According to reports, the fire has been extinguished and residents living within 500 meters of the site have been evacuated.

A statement issued by fire officials said 36 vehicles and 154 people were dispatched to the site to carry out rescue operations, Reuters reported.

Following the explosion, video of it was circulated on Chinese social media site Weibo, showing a large fireball bursting from a multi-storey building. The explosion destroyed the walls and roof of the building and a thick plume of smoke could be seen billowing into the sky from the building.

At least three buildings were seriously damaged by the blast and one was left in a skeletal state, CNN reports. It also said that residents shared on social media that they heard a loud bang in the morning and felt that their buildings were shaking.

CCTV footage showed that buildings across the road where the blast occurred were also affected. The blast shattered windows and damaged shop signs, CNN reported.

“I heard a huge bang… which scared me badly,” AFP quoted a vendor at a local market as saying. Another witness said, “Outside, I saw clouds of black smoke.”

Another vendor told AFP he heard “a big bang” coming from the blast site, located in a busy area of ​​a squat apartment block that was about six to seven storeys high.

“I was at home when I heard a loud explosion, I initially thought it might be a gunshot,” Reuters quoted Zhao Li, a middle-aged woman who lives about a kilometer from the blast site, as saying.

The latest deadly gas explosion at an eatery in China came after the government issued detailed guidelines on the use of gas appliances and cookers last year to reduce safety risks.