16 killed after office canteen explosion in China

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A lunchtime explosion at an office canteen killed 16 people in southwest China and injured 10 others, authorities said.

A gas leak is the suspected cause of the blast on Friday, the Chongqing city government said in an online statement.

The canteen collapsed, trapping victims inside. Rescue workers searched the debris into the night and all the bodies were recovered by midnight, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Ministry of Emergency Management dispatched a team to of more than 600 personnel to the scene, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Rescuers search at the scene of the explosion that caused a building to collapse in Chongqing on 7 January 2022.
Rescuers search at the scene of the explosion on 7 January 2022. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
One of the survivors was in critical condition, Xinhua said.

The 12.10pm blast happened at a government subdistrict office in Wulong District, which is about 75 km west of the Chongqing city centre and known for its scenic karst rock formations.

An eyewitness told state-run Phoenix TV that the blast was “very scary … our windows have all been blown to pieces”.

Gas leaks and explosions are not uncommon in China, due to weak safety standards.

In June, 25 people were killed in a gas blast that ripped through a residential compound and struck a busy two-storey building packed with shoppers.

Eight suspects, including the general manager of the company that owned the gas pipe, were detained after the government said “the company’s safety management system was unsound”.

The same month, 18 people were killed and more injured when a fire broke out at a martial arts school, with state media reporting that all the victims were boarding school pupils.

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