At least 12 people were killed and 39 seriously injured Sunday after a gas line explosion tore through a residential neighborhood in central China.
Responders to the early morning blast in the Hubei province city of Shiyan sent more than 150 people to hospital, according to a statement on the city’s official social media channel.
The statement said rescue efforts were continuing but gave no word on the cause of the explosion.
Stall keepers and customers buying breakfast and fresh vegetables at a food market were the major victims when the explosion hit shortly after 6 a.m., according to state media reports.
Photos showed rescuers climbing over broken concrete slabs to reach those trapped inside.
The blast appeared similar to one that occurred in the northeastern port of Qingdao in 2013, in which 55 people were killed when underground pipelines ripped open following a leak.
The Shiyan 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.
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Frequent deadly accidents are usually traced to weak adherence to safety standards, poor maintenance and corruption among enforcement bodies. Those responsible are often handed harsh punishments, but high demand and the desire for profits often trump such concerns.
Among the worst accidents was a massive 2015 explosion at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers. The blast was blamed on illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials.