Death toll rises to 16 in building collapse in China's Chongqing city

Firefighters carry out a rescue operation in Wulong district of Chongqing, China, on Jan 7, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
The blast occured at noon and people having lunch at the time were trapped. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (REUTERS, AFP, XINHUA) - A building housing a canteen in Chongqing in China's south-west collapsed on Friday (Jan 7) after an explosion suspected to have been caused by a gas leak, killing at least 16, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

As of 11pm on Friday, all of the 26 people trapped have been pulled out of the debris. Among them, sixteen people were killed and 10 injured, the Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) said on Saturday.

One person was in critical condition and the other injured people were also in hospital.

The MEM dispatched a team of more than 600 personnel to the scene in Chongqing's Wulong district.

The blast occurred at 12.10pm on Friday and people having lunch at the time were trapped, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The fire department posted a video on its official Weibo page showing orange-clad workers in hard hats climbing through a tangle of cables, bricks and concrete.

Footage posted on social media by state broadcaster CCTV showed smoke and dust billowing from the collapsed building in Wulong district on the outskirts of the south-western megacity.

The scene of the blast appeared to be in the middle of other buildings and was surrounded by a crowd of bystanders.

Another clip by Xinhua showed dozens of rescuers in military fatigues jogging along a road to the accident site carrying shovels over their shoulders.

The local authorities have set up an "on-site emergency response headquarters" to direct the rescue work and provide medical treatment, the People's Daily reported.

An eyewitness told state-run Phoenix TV that the blast was "very scary... our windows have all been blown to pieces".

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