At least 12 people have been killed and many have been seriously injured after a gas line explosion tore through a residential neighbourhood in central China.
Responders to the early Sunday blast in the Hubei province city of Shiyan sent 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, which occurred about 6.30am local time.
According to Chinese state media CGTN, 12 people have been killed and 138 injured.
Residents were having breakfast and buying food at the market when the explosion occurred, China Central Television reported.
Hospitals in Shiyan are asking residents to donate blood, as the injured are still under emergency treatment, CCTV said.
Many people also still remain trapped, CNN reported citing the city's municipal office.
Images on social media show the streets covered in debris after the explosion with concrete, paint and bricks stripped off buildings.
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.
Blast comes day after chemical 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 2015 explosion at a chemical warehouse in the port city of Tianjin that killed 173 people, most of them firefighters and police officers. The blast was blamed on illegal construction and unsafe storage of volatile materials.
with Reuters and The Associated Press
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