Rescuers and sniffer dogs work at the gas explosion site in Zhangwan district in Shiyan city, Central China's Hubei province, June 13, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
President Xi Jinping ordered all-out efforts to rescue the injured and asked the authorities to console the families of the casualties shortly after a gas explosion occurred in Shiyan, Hubei province, on Sunday morning.
The accident, which occurred at a marketplace near a residential community in the city of Shiyan, has left 12 people dead and 37 seriously injured.
In an instruction released on Sunday afternoon, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, required a timely investigation of the accident and that those responsible for the explosion be held accountable.
He mentioned that some workplace safety and campus safety incidents have occurred in various places nationwide, and he urged efforts to screen for potential safety risks and for caution to prevent major emergencies.
Concrete actions must be taken to safeguard people's lives and property and to uphold overall social stability, Xi said.
The accident, which occurred at a marketplace near a residential community in the city of Shiyan, has left 12 people dead and 37 seriously injured
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Premier Li Keqiang also made an instruction on Sunday, urging that the utmost efforts be made to reduce injuries and casualties. He also asked related departments of the State Council to take solid measures to intensify oversight of safety matters in key areas so as to resolutely reduce major accidents.
Acting upon the instructions of Xi and Li, a task force comprising officials and professionals from the Ministry of Emergency Management, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Health Commission has been sent to Shiyan to help in the rescue efforts.
Twelve people died and 138 were injured in the gas explosion in Shiyan on Sunday morning, according to the local information office.
The blast occurred at around 6 am in a two-story food market next to a residential area in the city's Zhangwan district. A preliminary investigation by the local emergency management department concluded it was caused by a gas pipeline leak.
The city and the provincial government immediately set up rescue and emergency response teams, and sent 173 local firefighters and 40 armed police to the site of the blast.
The information office reported on its social media account that those injured were taken to hospitals for treatment and Hubei has coordinated medical resources across the province to help the city.
According to a witness, some stores in the market were already open and a few people were buying groceries when the explosion occurred.
Images and video clips circulating on social media indicate that the blast packed a huge wallop－only the main structure of the building remains and debris is scattered everywhere.
Hubei Party Secretary Ying Yong announced after the blast that the government will strive to minimize the damage and to promptly publicly report related information.
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"The province will organize a comprehensive examination of the pipeline and fire facilities in the province, especially in old residential areas, to ensure the safety of people's lives and property," Ying said.
Zhang Dong, a deputy manager of a local engineering company who voluntarily organized a 100-member team offering on-site logistics support, said he is calling on colleagues to donate blood after hearing of a shortage in local hospitals.
"We are supplying water and food to the rescue team at the site, and since there are many people in the designated blood donation station, we have suggested those who want to donate blood go there at different times," Zhang said.
There are currently four stations where city residents can donate blood.
The cause of explosion remains under investigation.
Liu Kun in Hubei contributed to this story.