Beijing, Jun 14 (efe-epa).- At least 18 people died and 166 others were injured as a truck carrying liquefied natural gas exploded in Zhejiang Province in eastern China, state-owned Xinhua news agency reported Sunday.
The blast occurred on Saturday near Liangshan, area in the city of Wenling, and caused several residential buildings near the site to collapse.
The causes of the explosion remain unknown.
As of 4am local time, 166 people were receiving treatment in nearby hospitals, local authorities told the official media agency.
According to the same sources, the truck turned sharply before exploding on the Shenyang-Haikou Highway in Zhejiang Province at 4.40pm on Saturday.
The explosion also caused the collapse of some nearby factory workshops, besides the residential houses.
A total of 138 firefighters and 34 fire trucks were at the scene, and another 316 firefighters had been called in to help with the rescue work, according to the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management.
Firefighters and rescue personnel were conducting search operations to locate possible missing persons in the debris.
Lu Fang, who works at a nearby restaurant, told Xinhua agency that she heard a loud noise, and thought it was a flat tire, something commonly heard along the expressway.
Footage broadcast on Chinese state television showed scenes of the explosion, with large flares along the highway.
“The glass on the windows and doors of my home was all shattered. Luckily my mother and brother were unharmed,” Lu said.
Emergency management vice minister Sun Huashan was on his way to Zhejiang to coordinate the rescue efforts. EFE-EPA