A huge suspected gas explosion at a restaurant killed one person and injured 22 more on the outskirts of Beijing during Wednesday rush hour, state media reported, causing severe damage to buildings.

China has seen a spate of deadly accidents in recent months, often caused by official negligence -- prompting calls from President Xi Jinping for "deep reflection" and greater efforts to stop them.

Wednesday's blast took place just before 8 am (0000 GMT), state broadcaster CCTV said, in a residential area in the city of Sanhe, Hebei province, less than 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of the centre of the Chinese capital.

One person died and 22 were injured, the broadcaster said, adding the explosion was suspected to have been caused by a gas leak at a fried chicken shop.

"I heard a great big bang... which scared me stiff," a seller at a local market told AFP.

"Outside, I saw clouds of black smoke," they added.

Another seller said they also heard a "huge bang" from the blast site, in a bustling village of squat apartment blocks about six or seven floors high.

An AFP team at the scene also observed police waving oncoming traffic away from an entrance to the neighbourhood where the explosion occurred.

And from a police cordon on the north side of the blast zone, they could see a tower of grey smoke a few hundred metres away, with what appeared to be a crane positioned near it.


Footage online circulated by state media showed a huge explosion that sent plumes of smoke and fire across a busy road.

Another video on social media verified by AFP showed what appeared to be a building that had completely collapsed as well as several destroyed cars and debris strewn across the street.

The blast blew out shop facades on the opposite side of the ground, footage shared on video-sharing site Douyin showed. The uploader told AFP the explosion took place 200 metres from her home.

Rescue workers rushed to the scene, with the local Langfang fire department saying 36 emergency vehicles and 154 personnel had been dispatched.

"The fire is currently under effective control, and rescue work is being carried out urgently," the Langfang fire department said.

A merchant working at a nearby store told state-run Jimu News she had been in her shop when she heard a bang.

She ran out of her store and saw a building on fire, she said, adding that "the whole building was virtually destroyed".

Accidents common 

Explosions and other deadly accidents are common in China due to lax safety standards and poor enforcement.

Last month, at least 15 people were killed and 44 injured in a fire at a residential building in the eastern city of Nanjing.

In January, dozens died after a fire broke out at a store in the central city of Xinyu, with state news agency Xinhua reporting the blaze had been caused by the "illegal" use of fire by workers in the store's basement.

That fire came just days after a late-evening blaze at a school in central Henan province killed 13 schoolchildren as they slept in a dormitory.

Domestic media reports suggested the fire was caused by an electric heating device.

And in November last year, 26 people were killed and dozens sent to hospital after a fire at a coal company office in northern China's Shanxi province.

Last June, an explosion at a barbecue restaurant in the northwest of the country left 31 dead and prompted official pledges of a nationwide campaign to promote workplace safety.