Multiple casualties reported in city in Zhejiang province after explosion at building that neighbours say was slated for demolition

At least two people were killed after a explosion rocked the port city of Ningbo in eastern China’s Zhejiang province on Sunday, causing buildings to collapse.

The explosion, which occurred at about 8.50am on Sunday, shattered windows up to a kilometre from the blast site.

The cause of the explosion was unknown.

The local authorities said at least two people had died in the explosion while local news reports said at least 30 people needed hospital treatment.

Zhejiang Daily reported on its website that the explosion was serious and quoted on-site witnesses as saying there had been deaths and injuries.

There was no further information about the precise number of casualties.

Video and pictures from the explosion site published on the local news portal run by the Ningbo government showed plumes of white smoke above the city. Many nearby buildings saw their roofs collapse and had their windows shattered.

The owner of Dazhong Restaurant at West Lijia Road, identifying himself only by his surname Feng, said his restaurant was 1km south to the explosion site and his glass windows broke when the explosion occurred. He said the blast took place inside a roadside house that was used for commercial purposes and was due to be demolished soon.

A restaurant owner near the explosion site, surnamed Dong, told the South China Morning Post when reached by the phone that his shop was about 500 metres away from the explosion site and all windows facing the scene of the blast had been shattered.

“Many police cars, ambulances and fire trucks all arriving,” Dong said.

A staff at a hotel at about a kilometre away from the explosion site said that “dozens of windows” were shattered in the explosion.

China has suffered major industrial explosions in the past. Two blasts in the port city of Tianjin on August 12, 2015, killed 173 people – including firefighters – and injured hundreds.