A gas pipe explosion occurred in a residential community in the Zhangwan District of Shiyan City, central China’s Hubei Province, at around 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, killing at least 12 people; a rescue operation is underway for survivors.
A total of 144 people, including the deceased and injured, were pulled from the debris.
The explosion happened at a two-floor food market built at the beginning of 1990s, local officials said while holding a press conference.
Some 913 households and merchants at the scene have been evacuated, authorities told media.
The city government has also ordered a safety assessment of nearby houses to identify potential risks.
Over 2,000 people were mobilized for the rescue operation, and the cause of the incident is under investigation.
Senior provincial officials, including governor Wang Zhonglin, have rushed to Shiyan.
The Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) has dispatched a work team for assistance.
A total of 173 local firemen, 38 vehicles, and six search and rescue dogs are currently working on site.
Residents in Shiyan have been queuing up to donate blood for the injured.