Bravery, lucky escapes and public charity

Updated 2017-07-25 09:48:26 Shanghai Daily

A simple chore saved a grandmother from joining the casualty list on July 21 after a gas explosion in a restaurant area on Gundun Road near West Lake killed two and injured 45.

The woman' son operates a diner next to a fish restaurant that was ground zero of the blast. It ripped through the three diners on the road, shattering glass and damaging passing vehicles. The explosion was triggered by faulty bottles of liquefied petroleum gas, firemen said.

The 50-year-old grandmother, who declined to be identified, said she was preparing a meal at her son's diner when she found she needed more potatoes. She was in the back room fetching them when the blast occurred. Her location shielded her from the main force of the explosion.

"The ceiling of the front room collapsed," she said. "I first thought it was an earthquake. I was so scared that my legs froze and I had to crawl out of the shop."

Seconds later, the diner was engulfed in flames.

One of the two people killed in the explosion was identified as local resident Song Jiaying, 23. She died while on a bus that was passing in front of the blast area, en route to her third day of work after recently graduating from the University of Macau.

Another victim, according to local police, was a passerby who was on the cycle path in front of the fish restaurant.

A woman who works at a noodle restaurant opposite the fish restaurant said she was crouching in a kitchen corner, dealing with ingredients, when the explosion occurred.

"I heard a bang," she recalled. "I raised my head and saw glass everywhere, but I wasn't injured. I ran out onto the road. Glass and bits of tree branches were strewn everywhere. Many people were bleeding."

Although the glass has been cleaned from the area, food shop owners said they are being vigilant lest any small shards affect the meals they are serving.

On the west side of Gundun Road , three burnt-out stores stand scorched and black. On the east side, elaborate signboards of businesses are unreadable. Many of them were put up by the local government last summer as part of city beautification project for the G20 summit.

The explosion came as Hangzhou is suffering a heat wave that has taken temperatures into the 40 degrees Celsius.

More than 2,500 people flooded into blood mobiles, donation centers and hospitals to donate blood for the explosion victims.

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