At about 6:30 a.m. local time Sunday a gas pipe exploded in the Zhangwan district of Shiyan city, in Hubei province, according to official news agency Xinhua.
Images circulating on social media, which appeared to be from the scene, showed rescue workers in orange jumpsuits working through the wreckage of flattened houses.
Authorities did not provide details on the number of people trapped or whether anyone was killed.
The cause of the accident is under investigation, according to the city government, which said on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo that it is organizing rescue efforts.
This is a developing story