A gas explosion in a residential area killed at least 12 people and injured 138 others, 37 of them severely, in central China on Sunday, the local authorities said.
The cause of the blast, which took place at around 6:30 a.m. in the city of Shiyan, in Hubei Province, was still under investigation, according to the local government.
Photographs published by official media showed bricks and debris strewn in the street and extensive damage to nearby buildings. Rescue workers in helmets and orange suits were working to free people trapped in the rubble.
The explosion took place at a vegetable market that had already opened for business for the day, according to local news reports, which said people had been buying and selling produce and eating breakfast.
The governor of Hubei, Wang Zhonglin, was heading to the scene to direct rescue efforts, the authorities said. The provincial Communist Party secretary, Ying Yong, called for gas pipelines, chemical factories, power plants and older residential neighborhoods across Hubei to be inspected for safety risks.
In recent years, deadly blasts in industrial zones have led the Chinese authorities to become stricter about enforcing safety rules. In 2015, explosions at a chemical storage facility in Tianjin, a northern port city, killed more than 170 people.