At least 35 people were killed and 166 were injured Friday in a pipeline explosion in the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao, authorities told the official Xinhua news agency.
The blast occurred at around 10:30 a.m. in the city's Huangdao district when some workers were repairing a leak that had been detected earlier in the morning.
The local government has ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack, while the State Administration of Work Safety has sent a work team to the site of the explosion to assist the rescue teams.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called for "maximum effort" in the search for survivors and also urged local authorities to "spare no effort to rescue the injured, find the cause of the accident and strengthen safety," Xinhua reported.
Premier Li Keqiang issued a similar statement, also reported by Xinhua, which said the fire had still not been extinguished and that more than 100 firefighters were working to put it out.
Some residents have been evacuated from nearby towns for fear of a second explosion, according to Xinhua, while nearby hospitals were struggling to provide emergency care to a large number of patients injured in the blast.
The blast at the pipeline - owned by Sinopec, China's largest oil refiner - ripped up an adjacent road, scattered pieces of cement and other materials over a radius of several meters (yards) and shattered the windows of several nearby cars.
The local government has appealed for calm, saying there are no immediate indications the explosion caused pollution levels to rise in that coastal region. EFE