17 killed in China restaurant blast

Beijing: At least 17 people were killed in a gas cylinder blast at a restaurant in China’s Anhui province, officials said on Sunday.

A gas cylinder at the restaurant, located on the first floor of a six-storey building in Jinghu district of Wuhu city, caught fire on Saturday morning, followed by a blast six minutes later, Xinhua news agency reported.

The fire was put out in about half an hour. Rescuers retrieved 17 bodies.

According to an investigation report, the victims included 14 students from nearby schools aged between 15-20 and three men. Many of deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Restaurant owner Zhang Baoping, 38, has been put under police investigation.

The restaurant opened on August 18 without an official licence, the report said.

When the accident happened, Zhang tried to put out the fire with water and a fire extinguisher, but the blast followed shortly after. Both he and his wife were injured, the report added.