A pair of natural gas explosions rocked two urban centers in Northeast China just days apart. The carnage levelled buildings, killing at least 7 and injuring at least 54.
The most recent explosion occurred at an apartment complex in Dalian city, Liaoning Province, on Oct. 25. The roof of the building was blown off as at least two people were killed and seven injured.
The blast occurred on the fifth floor at about 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 24, reported Chinese Communist Party (CCP) state broadcaster Xinhua.
Ambulances, in addition to eight fire trucks carrying 40 firefighters, attended the scene to rescue the 28 residents of the building.
Officials claim they are still investigating the cause of the explosion.
Dalian, a major port and the second largest city in Liaoning Province, is the fourth-most populous city in Northeast China.
It was the second gas explosion to rock Liaoning Province in a week.
The first blast
Just days prior to the Dalian explosion, another gas explosion occurred in Liaoning’s provincial seat, Shenyang, on Oct. 21. The capital is home to more than 9 million residents.
The explosion blasted a restaurant on Taiyuan South Street at approximately 8:00 a.m., damaging nearby buildings. Officials said at least 5 people were killed and 47 injured, but the statistics were questioned by some netizens due to the size of the blast.
Taiyuan South Street, near Shenyang Railway Station, is the second largest commercial pedestrian street in the city and one of the most famous commercial areas in China.
Officials claimed that 1,512 people were evacuated, more than 8,000 homes lost access to running water, and more than 14,700 were without electricity.
Pedestrians and resident injuries
According to footage from a dashcam video posted on YouTube, the explosion appeared to occur near an intersection, causing a cloud of smoke and dust in addition to falling debris from damaged buildings.
Residents escaped to the streets and bystanders fled. A nearby bus was demolished.
The entire building was destroyed and tens of meters of smoke rose from the scene, reported Hongxin News, an outlet operated by the Chengdu municipal government, on Oct. 21. A three-floor building on the next street was also leveled and the street was in ruins.
The explosion occurred during rush hour, blocking roads with debris. Windows of many buildings were shattered, littering the streets.
“The explosion site is in the downtown area of Shenyang City with a dense population…Most of the buildings are commercial and residential buildings,” Mr. Wu, a nearby resident, told Hongxin News.
“In addition to pedestrians being injured by the explosion, many nearby residents were also injured,” said Wu, adding he learned that many neighbors were hurt by shattered glass in their homes and sent to the hospital by rescuers.
One landlord outside an apartment complex said a tenant fell from her bed while sleeping, suffering a fracture that resulted in hospitalization.
Ms. Liu, who was injured in the accident, told Hongxin that she was riding the bus when the explosion occurred, “I was sitting at the right side of the aisle and suddenly heard a huge noise, and was bounced to the aisle.”
She added that the windows of the bus were shattered and the door had stopped working, so passengers climbed out of the windows. She was injured by shattered glass and was treated in the hospital.
The nearby districts of Yichun and Hongxing were most severely affected by the explosion, reported Qianjiang Evening News on Oct. 22.
“I was in my store this morning and now I am in the hospital,” the owner of a grocery store near the explosion site told the outlet over the phone. The woman said she heard a loud noise outside her shop in the morning. Thinking it was just a house demolition, she didn’t pay much attention. It was too late for her to learn it was a gas explosion.
“I was just too busy,” she said.
The owner of a barber shop located on the south side of Yichun District told the reporter that his shop was severely affected by the explosion and he was cleaning up.
A store clerk, Mr. Wang in Yichun District, said that the glass door of his store was shattered. He and other staff escaped from the broken door. They saw many people escaping from the explosion site.
He described frightening scenes of debris falling from high buildings and rubble everywhere. Wang said he saw a bus with its windows shattered and iron doors of some stores were deformed by the force of the blast.
After the explosion, 25 fire trucks and 110 firefighters were deployed to the site to rescue people, reported Sina.com.
Some nearby residents said a gas pipeline near the restaurant was being repaired the night before the incident.
In June, a similar gas explosion at a market in central China killed 25 people and injured approximately 140 people according to Communist Party reports. However, some netizens claimed at least 100 people died.