An explosion at a barbecue restaurant kills at least 31 people in China | International

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Just after 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the busiest time for dinner customers, an explosion rocked the Fuyang barbecue restaurant in the Chinese city of Yinquan (located in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, in the northwest of the country ), causing the death of at least 31 people. Seven others were injured and one of them remains in critical condition. Images of the scene show numerous fire and emergency vehicles deployed in front of a building from which a thick column of dense smoke emanates. Damage is seen on the façade, stretchers transporting bodies and screams of pain are heard.

The explosion is related to a leak detected in a liquefied gas tank at the restaurant. The fire managed to be extinguished in less than an hour, although the hundred firefighters and members of rescue teams deployed to the area have been working until four in the morning this Thursday. Dozens of families from the adjoining buildings have been moved for safety. Nine people have been arrested for their alleged relationship with the conflagration, including the manager, shareholders and employees of the food establishment. All of them have had their assets frozen.

The event took place on the eve of a few days of bridge for the dragon boat festival, a colorful celebration that marks the beginning of summer. The country's president, Xi Jinping, has sent a message of encouragement, which gives a measure of the magnitude of the tragedy. "It is necessary to do a good job in treating the injured and consoling the families of the victims, find out the cause of the accident as soon as possible, and seriously investigate the liability according to the law," the leader demanded.

Xi recalled the holiday that marks these days and has called on "all relevant regions and departments" to ensure that activities are carried out safely with "the supremacy of the people and life" in mind. He has also called for increased security supervision in critical industries.

A member of the rescue team, quoted by the Chinese newspaper the paper, He explained that the situation was much more serious than he had imagined. After the explosion, there was a lot of smoke and many of the customers were unconscious and without strength. Another person who intervened in the rescue of the wounded explained that most of the victims died of suffocation. Among the deceased were high school students and retired elderly people. According to this medium, Fuyang is a well-known barbecue restaurant that has been operating in Yinchuan for many years.

The deflagration occurred around 8:40 p.m. About an hour earlier, a waiter and cook from the barbecue restaurant had dialed 119, the Chinese emergency number. They alerted by phone that they had smelled a gas leak, according to a note on the Yinchuan Government page. Upon discovering that a liquefied gas tank valve was broken, they went to buy a new one to change it. The explosion occurred in the process of replacement.

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This is the explosion with the most deaths in China since March 2019 when the explosion at a chemical plant in Jiangsu province killed 78 people, according to the Hong Kong newspaper. South China Morning Post. In July 2017, at least two people were killed and 45 injured in an explosion at a restaurant in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

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