Beijing (AFP/APP): At least 31 people were killed when an explosion caused by a gas leak ripped through a restaurant in the northwestern Chinese city of Yinchuan, state media said Thursday.
The blast occurred on the eve of the three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, when many in China go out and socialise with friends.
Footage on state broadcaster CCTV showed more than a dozen firefighters working at the site as smoke poured out of a gaping hole in the restaurant’s facade.
Shards of glass and other debris littered the darkened street, which is also home to a number of other eateries and entertainment venues.
Nine people including the restaurant’s “owner, shareholders and staff” were held by police following the explosion, CCTV said, adding that “their assets have been frozen”.
“A leak of liquefied petroleum gas… caused an explosion during the operation of a barbecue restaurant,” state news agency Xinhua said of the Wednesday evening blast, citing the regional Communist Party committee.
Seven more people were receiving medical treatment, the agency said, with one of them in a “critical condition”.
Two others suffered severe burns, two had minor injuries and two had scratches caused by flying glass, Xinhua said.
High school students and retirees were among the casualties, many of whom died due to suffocation likely caused by smoke inhalation, state-backed media outlet The Paper said, citing anonymous officials involved in the rescue effort.
The explosion at about 8:40 pm (1240 GMT) Wednesday took place at the Fuyang Barbecue Restaurant in a residential area of downtown Yinchuan, the capital of the Ningxia autonomous region.

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