Beijing: A day after 17 people were killed in an explosion at a restaurant in China's east Anhui Province, authorities on Sunday said 14 students were among the casualties.
The students, aged 15 to 20, came from nearby schools when a gas cylinder exploded due to fire yesterday. Three others including a father-son duo were also killed in the explosion.
Many of the deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
The gas cylinder at the private restaurant, located on the first floor of a six-storey building in Jinghu District of Wuhu city, caught fire followed by a blast six minutes later, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The fire was doused in about half an hour and the rescuers retrieved 17 bodies.
Owner of the snack bar, Zhang Baoping, 38, from Hanshan County of Anhui, has been put under police investigation.
The snack bar opened on August 18 without an official license, according to the investigation.
Zhang said he and his wife rented the restaurant more than two months ago to sell snacks including fried noodles. When the accident happened, he tried to put out the fire with water and a fire extinguisher but the blast followed shortly after. Both he and his wife were also injured.
A witness said that he heard at least two blasts. More than 30 firefighters participated in the rescue work.
Gas blasts in restaurants have become common occurrence in China recently due to lack of safety measures causing numerous casualties.