Update: Seven dead, 27 injured in explosion in Beijing's satellite town Yanjiao
Safety awareness reiterated following major accidents in 2024
Published: Mar 13, 2024 09:01 PM
Screenshots of circulating videos showing the explosion taken place in Yanjiao in Sanhe city, North China's Hebei Province on March 13, 2024. Photo: Sina Weibo

Screenshots of circulating videos showing the explosion taken place in Yanjiao in Sanhe city, North China's Hebei Province on March 13, 2024. Photo: Sina Weibo

An explosion occurred in a building in the town of Yanjiao, located to the east of Beijing, on Wednesday morning. The incident has resulted in seven deaths and 27 injured, local authorities said in a latest notice published on Thursday early morning. 

The explosion, suspected to be caused by a gas leak, occurred at 7:54 am on Wednesday at a fried chicken shop in Yanjiao, Sanhe city in North China's Hebei Province. It caused severe damage to several surrounding buildings, local authorities said. 

After the accident, local fire, emergency, and medical teams quickly arrived on the scene to deal with the situation. The fire brigade received a report of the explosion and fire at 7:55 am, and had the fire under control before 10 am, the brigade said in a statement.

As of 1:30 pm, 28 people had been recovered from the scene of the accident. Among them, two people have been confirmed dead, and 26 injured, Ji Hongtu, head of the Emergency Management Bureau of Sanhe city, said in an interview at the scene with China Central Television (CCTV). 

As of 1 pm, there were 14 injured persons in the hospital, including two seriously injured suffering from head injuries and collapsed lungs, but no life-threatening conditions. The other 12 persons are suffering from minor injuries, mainly soft tissue injuries and fractures but have stable vital signs. The lightly injured were discharged after emergency treatment, according to CCTV reports.

Yanjiao is a satellite town to the east of Beijing, and a commuting hub for many who work in Beijing. The explosion struck during morning rush hour.

The National Health Commission (NHC) attaches great importance to this accident. It quickly contacted the Health Commission of Hebei Province after the accident occurred, requesting the immediate dispatch of provincial medical experts to the scene to carry out medical emergency work.

In order to minimize deaths and injuries, professional experts have been sent to hold consultations with the hospitals treating the injured and help assess the injuries of each patient and develop individualized treatment plans.

The NHC vows to continue to provide guidance on medical and psychological treatment of the injured, and will promptly dispatch experts to provide support as needed, it said on Wednesday afternoon, as quoted by CCTV.

The live scene revealed that the 4-story building collapsed after the explosion, which shattered glass in nearby buildings, damaged cars on the road, and left debris scattered on the ground. The building opposite the explosion site also suffered varying degrees of damage, with glass and other debris occasionally falling from it.

Gas explosions are a relatively dangerous type of accident. Once this kind of accident occurs, the impact and scope of influence are generally quite extensive, a scholar with the School of Public Administration and Policy of Renmin University of China, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The risk related to gas is an often-discussed topic, as gas usage is very common and the risk points are quite dispersed, especially when it comes to the maintenance of gas pipeline facilities, the expert said.  

He stressed that in terms of prevention, emergency and fire departments should strengthen supervision and public education, municipal departments should enhance maintenance, and property owners should also strengthen safety awareness.

For ordinary residents, the risk of a gas explosion at home is relatively small. While it is important to maintain safety awareness, there is no need to panic, he said.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been frequent safety accidents in various parts of China, including coal mine gas explosions, school dormitory fires, dust explosions, lithium battery explosions in electric vehicles, and other accidents, resulting in varying degrees of casualties. The National Fire Rescue Bureau has been holding a nationwide concentrated firefighting and safety rectification campaign from January 26 to the end of March. 

We are now living in a risk society where risks are everywhere, warned the public administration expert. The key is for property owners and individuals to strengthen their sense of responsibility. Regulatory measures may inevitably overlook hidden dangers, so enhancing overall safety awareness is a necessary long-term process, he said.