Blast at China apartment building kills at least one

A suspected gas explosion at a residential building in China's northeast city of Harbin has killed one person and injured three as it tore off a balcony, state media says, while scattering rubble in the street.

It is China's latest such incident after two people were killed and 26 injured in March following a massive blast caused by a suspected gas leak at a restaurant in the northern province of Hebei that ripped facades from buildings and crushed cars.

Thursday's blast, suspected to have been caused by an explosion of a gas tank, happened at about 7am (2300 GMT) on Thursday at a building in the city's district of Xiangfang, the official China Daily said, citing district officials.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted witnesses as saying the blast was on the fourth floor of the building at a downtown intersection in the capital of the province of Heilongjiang.

Residents heard a loud blast and suspected it was a gas explosion, the agency said, adding that the blast ripped off the balcony of the apartment and several others nearby.

People ran out of the building.

Ambulances, public security and fire officials mounted a rescue operation at the site, Xinhua said.

The cause of the explosion was being further investigated, the China Daily said.

Video images from a car's dashboard camera showed the blast spewing debris onto a nearby highway.

In other images, rescue workers and firemen picked their way around concrete rubble scattered on the sidewalk outside the building.

with Reuters