An explosion rocked a kindergarten in eastern China yesterday, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens, authorities said, as state media published images showing bloodied and unconscious victims.
The explosion had happened at the school’s gates, the Xinhua news agency said, citing the emergency office of Xuzhou city.
Images circulating online showed that the force of the blast tore people’s clothes off and one woman was seen clutching her child, who was in tears.
An official at the police station in Fengxian county said that the cause of the blast was under investigation.
However, the Global Times and China Youth Daily newspapers cited witnesses as saying that a gas cylinder at a food stall had exploded.
At least seven people were killed and 66 injured, including nine seriously, according to the Xuzhou city government.
Two died at the site of the explosion and five while being treated.
Pictures of the scene showed more than a dozen people outside a building, many lying on the concrete and some appearing to be unconscious, including a small child.
Online media reports cited a business owner near the kindergarten as saying that at about 5pm he heard a bang, and found there had been an explosion at the kindergarten entrance only 100 metres away.
Some people on China’s Twitter-like Weibo website said the use of gas canisters by food stalls posed a danger.
“China’s small restaurants are landmines, and every mobile street vendor is a moving bomb,” one person wrote.
“How can the city management officers allow a vendor to set up a stall at a school entrance with a gas fuel canister?”
It is the latest tragedy to strike a kindergarten in China in recent weeks.
A school bus packed with pupils erupted in flames inside a tunnel in eastern Shandong province on May 9, killing 11 children, a teacher and the driver.
Officials said later the fire had been intentionally set by the driver, who was angry at losing overtime wages.
There have also been knife attacks at schools in recent years.
In January, a man armed with a kitchen knife stabbed and wounded 11 children at a kindergarten in southern Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. In February last year, a knife-wielding assailant wounded 10 children in a school yard in Haikou, in the southern island province of Hainan, before committing suicide.
In 2014, state media reported that a man stabbed three children and a teacher to death and wounded several others in a rampage at a primary school that refused to enrol his daughter.