China: At least 16 killed in building collapse after suspected gas explosion in Chongqing

A building housing a canteen in Chongqing in China’s southwest has collapsed after an explosion suspected to have been caused by a gas leak, killing at least 16, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Friday.

As of midnight on Friday, 26 people had been taken from the site, 16 of whom had died, the broadcaster said on Saturday.

One person was in critical condition, and the other injured people were also in hospital after being trapped in concrete following the explosion.

The Ministry of Emergency Management dispatched a team of more than 600 personnel to the scene in Chongqing’s Wulong district, CCTV said.

Xinhua news agency posted pictures showing heavy equipment lifting slabs of concrete from the site of the explosion.

Other pictures showed rescue personnel and men in military uniform digging through the rubble and carrying some of the injured.

According to Xinhua’s global service, Globalink, the explosion took place while the people were having their lunch. The report said the cause of the explosion is now being investigated.

Construction and industrial accidents are not uncommon in China, often due to managers cutting corners, lax safety standards and decaying infrastructure.