BEIJING: A gas explosion at a barbecue restaurant on Wednesday night in China’s northwestern Ningxia region killed 31, according to state-run Xinhua news agency, prompting President Xi Jinping to order a safety overhaul across the country.
Seven people were still undergoing treatment for burns and cuts from broken glass after the blast, which was triggered by a leaking liquefied petroleum gas tank at the restaurant, Xinhua reported on Thursday.
The barbecue shop in Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia region, is well-known locally with a loyal following, according to media reports. The blast happened during peak dining hours, with high school students and retirees among the dead.
The explosion, on the eve of a long weekend as millions of tourists expected to hit the road during the Dragon Boat Festival, led Xi to call on all regions to rectify safety risks and “hidden dangers”.
Accidents due to gas and chemical blasts are not uncommon in China despite years of efforts to improve safety. In 2015, a series of explosions in the northern port city of Tianjin killed 173 people.