China police investigate restaurant owners after fatal explosion

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Police were investigating the owners of a restaurant after an explosion killed 17 people in south-east China on the weekend.

Two blasts ripped through the 32-square-metre noodle shop about noon on Saturday on a popular snack street in the old town of Wuhu, according to reports.

“They improperly handled the fire situation. They doused a burning cylinder with water, causing it to explode in six minutes. Zhang failed to remove people from the crowded space,” Xinhua quoted the local government as saying.

Liquid gas had leaked through a disconnected valve, come into contact with fire and caused the explosion, a Wuhu city government statement said.

Seventeen people including 14 secondary school students were killed, most by carbon monoxide poisoning, Xinhua said Monday.

“The burning cylinder was at the door front and blocked the way out. The people inside the restaurant retreated in face of the flames and had nowhere to escape,” said Yang Tao, head of the Jinghu district fire brigade.

Zhang and his wife began renting the popular eatery more than two months ago, Xinhua said. Both were injured battling the blaze with water and a fire extinguisher, they said.

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