A powerful explosion at a restaurant in northern China today that authorities believe was caused by a gas leak killed at least two people, injured 26 others and caused extensive damage, Chinese state media reported.

The explosion, which occurred at 07:55 (local time; 01:55 Greek time) almost completely destroyed the building where the restaurant was located and damaged parked cars in the Shanghai suburb of Beijing.

According to state broadcaster CCTV, authorities believe it was due to a gas leak in the kitchen of the restaurant, which mainly served grilled chicken.

The report aincreased to two dead and 26 injured, added the network. Initially, there was talk of one dead and 22 injured.

Videos uploaded to social media sites captured the powerful explosion, which sent thick smoke and flames onto a busy rush-hour road. In other visual material the building can be seen to have suffered almost complete destruction and damaged cars.

An AFP team found on the spot that police officers were diverting traffic.

The shock wave shattered shop fronts on the opposite side of the street, shows a video shot by a resident whose house is 200 meters from the scene of the disaster.

On the spot 36 vehicles and 154 members of the emergency services rushed to the scene, the fire department said. The fire that broke out was “under control”, added the same source.

Fires and fatal accidents are common in China due to lax enforcement of safety regulations. To the extent that the country’s president, Xi Jinping, gave “important instructions” at the beginning of the year to reduce “the number of accidents”.

In February, an apartment building fire killed 15 people in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing. In January, at least 39 people died when a fire broke out at a shopping mall in Xingyu (central China). Just 5 days earlier, a fire in the school dormitory claimed the lives of 13 children.

In June, an explosion at a restaurant killed 31 people, prompting authorities to launch a national awareness and information campaign to promote workplace safety.