Eight killed in suspected gas blast

AN explosion ripped through a fast food restaurant in China today, killing at least eight people, including a child, and shattering windows up to 3km away, officials and state media said.

Among the victims were children who were passing by the building on their way to school at the time of the blast, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Photographs taken outside the high-rise building in the northern city of Xian where the explosion occurred showed shattered glass and piles of debris on the road outside the building, where bodies covered with blue sheets lay on stretchers.

Xinhua quoted local officials and witnesses as saying the blast appeared to be a gas explosion at a restaurant on the first floor of the building which served hamburgers cooked in a traditional local style.

“Thirteen people were sent to our hospital, and three died – two male adults and a three-year-old girl. One is in a critical condition,” a doctor at the Shaanxi Renmin Hospital said.

Another 19 people injured in the blast were sent to the Xian Gaoxin Hospital and four of those had died, a nurse said. The condition of the other 15 people was not clear.

The body of an eighth victim, a woman, was found in the ruins of the restaurant, in an office tower in the Gaoxin district of Xian, Xinhua said.

The explosion appeared to have shattered the windows of the first two floors of the tower, with glass, mangled parts of the building and other debris littering the ground.

The force of the blast blew away a signboard at a nearby bus stop and broken window panes were seen 2-3km from the site, Xinhua said.

An official at the local public security bureau said emergency workers were still attending to casualties and they did not yet know the total number of dead and injured.

Police said the exact cause of the explosion was still under investigation.

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