32 killed in two gas explosions in China

At least 32 people have been killed and 47 others injured in two separate gas explosions in China, including a blast inside a restaurant which caught diners unawares.

Eighteen people were killed and five others remain trapped underground today after a gas explosion rocked a mine pit in southwest China's Guizhou Province. The accident took place at the Xiangshui Coal Mine in Panxian County of the coal-rich Liupanshui City.

In all 28 miners were trapped underground when the accident happened, according to provincial government and Panjiang group sources. Eighteen were killed in the accident. Five miners had been rescued while five others still remained trapped. Rescuers were searching for them, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

In another accident, 14 people were killed and 47 others injured after an explosion at a restaurant in China's northern Shanxi Province last night. The explosion triggered a fire at the Xiyangyang (Happy Sheep) Hot Pot Restaurant in Shouyang County of Jinzhong City.

Initial investigations showed the explosion was caused by a gas leak. Hot pot, the Chinese counterpart of 'fondue', is a kind of stew cooked using a metal pot kept simmering by charcoal, electricity or gas.

The powerful explosion shattered the windows of the two-storey restaurant and some neighbouring shops as far as 20 metres away. Iron gates of some shops were twisted by the force of the explosion.

Witnesses said that there was nothing unusual before the explosion happened. "Suddenly, there was a big bang and the hot wave ensued," said Yuan Heping, who was dining in the restaurant with his wife and friends when the explosion happened.

"The whole room was engulfed in black smoke and I had to use my sweater to cover my mouth before I managed to jump from the second-floor window," Yuan, who suffered slight injuries, said.

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