16/06/2017 11:12 AM AEST | Updated 16/06/2017 11:13 AM AEST

Deadly Explosion Outside Chinese Kindergarten A 'Criminal Act', Police Say

The blast killed eight people and injured 66, including many women and children.

An eighth person has died following an explosion outside a kindergarten in China, in what police now believe to be a criminal act.

Horrific images taken after the explosion in Fengxian county in the eastern province of Jiangsu show women sitting on the ground clutching screaming children, surrounded by the dead and wounded.

The explosion occured at 5pm local time (3pm AEST) on Thursday, just as parents were arriving to pick up their children from nursery.

Preliminary investigations by police suggest it was a criminal offence and a suspect has been targeted, according to official Chinese news agency, Xinhua.

Two people were killed immediately and six others died in hospital a short time later, according to the county government.

Eight other remain in a life-threatening condition and scores more have less serious injuries.

The number of children killed is not yet known, but Feng County authorities suggested no pupils of the kindergarten had been killed.

"According to an initial check, the kindergarten was in class, and there were no casualties among its teachers and pupils," the Feng County said online.

It is the second tragedy to strike students in China in recent weeks.

In May, eleven children died when a bus driver set alight his bus packed full of kindergarten students, as it was travelling through a tunnel in the city of Weihai. It later emerged that the bus driver, who was also killed, was angry that his overtime and night shift pay had been cut.