8 dead, 65 injured after explosion strikes kindergarten in eastern China (GRAPHIC PHOTO)

8 dead, 65 injured after explosion strikes kindergarten in eastern China (GRAPHIC PHOTO)
Police have launched a criminal investigation after eight people died following an explosion at a kindergarten in Fengxian in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, Chinese state media reports.

Police say they have identified a suspect in the blast and are searching for him, Xinhua reported.

Police have yet to confirm the number of casualties, but China Global Television Network are reporting that eight people have died and a further 65 have been injured in the blast. Eight of the injured are in a critical condition.

Chinese state media CCTV reports that two people died at the scene while the other six died in hospital.

Xinhua is reporting that the blast took place at 4.50pm local time as parents were arriving to collect their children. It was confirmed later on Thursday that the incident is being investigated as a criminal act, according to CGTN.

One witness told the Global Times that the explosion was caused by a gas cylinder at a nearby roadside stall.

Graphic footage from the scene show dozens of victims lying on the ground outside the school. Young children can also be seen among the injured.

Many of the victims are covered in blood and appear unconscious. One of the videos shows medics apparently trying to resuscitate a young child.

“Around 5pm, we heard an explosion,” one witness told online news site Sohu. “We heard a blast and thought it might have been a gas explosion. Five minutes after the explosion, [a] fire truck and police arrived at the scene.”