Public dining hall in China explodes, killing at least 6

At least six people died this Friday after a explosion in a dining room which caused the collapse of a building in the city of Chongqing (southwest China), trapping many people who were having lunch there.

The explosion occurred in the canteen of a local administration around 12:10 local time (04:10 GMT), “probably due to a gas leak,” said the public television CCTV.

More than 20 people were trapped in the landslide according to the state agency Xinhua.

By 7:00 p.m. local time, 15 people had been rescued from the rubble, three of them dead. Rescuers were trying to free 11 other people who were still trapped, according to Xinhua.

People were having lunch at the time the explosion occurred.

The first images released by Chinese media on social media showed firefighters making their way through collapsed walls, aided by a crane.

Other videos showed a dense cloud of gray smoke over a mountain of ruins and civilians being evacuated.

The number of injured is unknown at the moment. More than 150 members of the fire department are involved in rescue efforts, according to CCTV. Heavy material has also been sent to excavate.

Some of the injured were taken to hospital, Xinhua said, without giving further details on their number or condition.

Local authorities have set up an emergency center to direct rescue efforts and provide medical assistance, according to state press.

A witness told public television that the explosion “was terrible” and that “all the windows exploded.”

Accidental explosions are common in China, due to poor compliance with safety regulations.

In October 2021, a gas explosion in a restaurant devastated a very busy street in the large city of Shenyang (northeast). At least four people died and there were 50 injured.

In June 2021, a gas pipeline explosion killed 25 people in Hubei province (center). Eight people were arrested for negligence, including the head of the company that administered the gas pipeline.