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Canteen collapse: State Council to oversee probe as 16 dead

Rescuers search for trapped people after a canteen collapsed in Wulong district, Chongqing municipality, Jan 7, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

CHONGQING / BEIJING – The Work Safety Committee of China's State Council will supervise an investigation into Friday's canteen collapse in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality that killed 16, the Ministry of Emergency Management said Saturday.

According to witnesses, people were having lunch in the canteen when the blast took place

The accident took place at the canteen in Wulong district, at 12:10 pm on Friday as a suspected gas leak triggered the explosion and caused the collapse, trapping 26 people inside. 

As of midnight, all the trapped have been pulled out of the debris. Sixteen people were confirmed cead and 10 others were injured, including one critically. The injured are receiving treatment in hospital.

According to witnesses, people were having lunch in the canteen when the blast took place.

The cause of the accident is under further investigation.

Rescuers transport a trapped person after a canteen collapsed in Wulong district, southwest China's Chongqing municipality, Jan 7, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Upon receiving the report of the accident, Chen Min'er, Chongqing's Party chief, and Hu Henghua, Chongqing's acting mayor, immediately ordered related departments to conduct search and rescue operations. They rushed to the scene for command and dispatch work.

The local firefighting department dispatched three teams comprising 260 rescuers in 50 vehicles. The Ministry of Emergency Management has sent working groups and experts, a mine rescue team and an engineering team comprising 60 people to the scene. Excavation and lifting equipment has also been sent.

The municipal government has set up an emergency unit at the spot, and 10 more teams are at their disposal to carry out rescue operations and provide medical treatment.

"I heard a huge bang, which was like an earthquake. Soon, dozens of rescue vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances arrived at the scene," said a woman who works at a nearby shop around 100 meters from the site of the incident.

She said her shop was not affected much but windows of houses nearer to the site were shattered.