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Two die in blast near China school

At least two people have been killed and 17 others, including 10 children, injured when a three-wheeled truck caught fire and exploded outside a school in southern China, state media reported.

Initial reports from the scene in the resort city of Guilin described the blast as an accident, although police declined to confirm that, saying only that an investigation was continuing. One of the injured pupils was in said to be in a critical condition.

The explosion struck about 7am local time as youngsters were arriving at Balijie Primary School, which is near a four-lane road in urban Lingchuan county. The other seven injured were adults who had been dropping children off at the start of classes.

The official Xinhua News Agency and state broadcaster CCTV cited eyewitnesses as saying a motorised flatbed tricycle caught fire as it was passing the school and then exploded, setting other vehicles on fire and blowing out the windows in nearby cars and buildings. Such tricycles are frequently used to transport goods in smaller Chinese cities.

Footage from the scene showed badly burned victims sitting dazed in the street as flames licked motorcycles around them. Debris, including half a dozen motor scooters and electric bicycles, was spread across the road and investigators collected evidence.

CCTV said the city government had ordered a security crackdown focusing on storage and handling of explosive materials.

A police officer in the area, who gave only her surname, Li, said an investigation was under way to determine the cause.

Guilin is famed for its natural scenery dominated by the Li River and striking karst outcrops.

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