The death toll from a gas blast that ripped through a residential compound in central China on Sunday (13 June) has risen to 25, Beijing’s state media reported on Monday, as authorities continued a desperate rescue operation.
Several buildings were reduced to rubble and more than 140 people were injured in the explosion, which struck a busy two-storey building packed with shoppers and people eating breakfast in the city of Shiyan in Hubei province.
Hubei’s information office said on Monday that the death toll had now risen to 25 – more than double a previous tally of 12, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
About 2,000 rescue workers have been deployed on the site, with 900 people evacuated as surrounding buildings may have been damaged by the blast, the city government has said.
The blast occurred in a building that earlier housed a vehicle-frame manufacturer.
Several survivors told local media that the gas pipeline had fallen into disrepair after the factory was moved last year.
Sunday’s blast prompted a rare statement from Chinese President Xi Jinping urging local officials to ‘learn profound lessons from the incident’. He also said: ‘Those responsible must be held to account.’
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