At least 11 killed by gas explosion in China

At least 11 people have been killed and 37 others seriously injured after a gas explosion tore through a residential neighbourhood in central China on Sunday.

Emergency services responding to the early-morning blast in the city of Shiyan in Hubei province sent a total of 144 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.

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.

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 explosion at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin in 2015 that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers. The blast was blamed on illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials. – Associated Press

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