May 21, 2024

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Investigation is underway after 29 were killed in a hospital fire in Beijing | News

Investigation is underway after 29 were killed in a hospital fire in Beijing |  News

Preliminary findings indicate that the fire at Beijing Changfeng Private Hospital started when paint materials caught fire.

The death toll in a fire at a private hospital in Beijing has risen to 29, authorities said, and preliminary investigations indicate that the fire was caused by the ignition of flammable paint materials during renovation work.

The fire broke out just before 1pm (0500 GMT) on Tuesday in the eastern wing of Changfeng Hospital in Beijing, and was extinguished after about half an hour, according to state media.

Li Zhongrong, deputy mayor of Fengtai District in western Beijing where the hospital is located, expressed his “deep condolences” when announcing the new toll at a press conference on Wednesday. All but three who died were sick.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that preliminary investigations indicated that the fire was caused by “sparks generated during the interior renovation and construction of the hospital’s inpatient department”.

It said the sparks “ignited flammable paint volatiles at the site”.

Dozens of people were evacuated from the seven-story building as it caught fire, and 39 people were treated for injuries sustained in the fire. Officials said three of them are in critical condition and 18 are in serious condition.

“There was a lot of smoke, I could see it,” said an elderly resident, who asked not to be named except as he told me to the Reuters news agency.

Senior city officials visited the site shortly after the fire with Beijing Party Secretary Yin Li and promised to “quickly determine the cause of the accident and hold relevant responsible persons accountable.”

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Investigators inside a burning hospital room Tuesday night [Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo]

On Wednesday, Sun Haitao of the Beijing Public Security Bureau announced that 12 people, including the facility’s director, had been arrested in connection with the fire, and that representatives from the company renovating the hospital were also being held.

The investigation began

Dozens of spectators gathered in front of the hospital entrance, Wednesday, according to the French News Agency, after the city’s deadliest fire in at least 20 years. The facility was cordoned off and police officers were stationed at the gate to discourage people from taking pictures.

Social media users posted videos on Tuesday of people perched on outdoor air conditioning units, while others appeared to tie bed sheets into makeshift ropes to escape from windows.

The report said the deaths were confirmed after the victims were transferred to another unknown hospital for emergency treatment.

China Youth Daily said in a separate report on Wednesday that many family members had lost contact with patients, with the missing mostly elderly people with mobility problems.

A police officer at the scene told AFP that the city “will likely make appropriate arrangements” to take care of the victims’ relatives.

Changfeng Hospital is about 25 minutes’ drive from central Tiananmen Square.

Deadly fires are common in China due to poor safety standards and lax law enforcement.

Ten people died in an apartment building fire in northwestern Xinjiang in November, with COVID-19 lockdowns blamed for hampering rescue efforts. Protests sparked by the deaths spread across the country and spell the end of China’s COVID-free strategy.