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    HomeWorldInvestigation under way after 29 killed in Beijing hospital fire | News

    Investigation under way after 29 killed in Beijing hospital fire | News

    Preliminary findings suggest blaze at private Beijing Changfeng Hospital began when painting materials caught fire.

    The death toll in a fire at a private Beijing hospital has risen to 29, authorities have said, with initial investigations suggesting the blaze was caused when flammable paint materials ignited during renovation work.

    The fire broke out just before 1pm (05:00 GMT) on Tuesday in the eastern wing of the Beijing Changfeng Hospital, and was extinguished after about half an hour, according to state media.

    Li Zongrong, deputy mayor of Beijing’s western Fengtai district where the hospital is located, expressed his “deep condolences” as he announced the new toll at a press conference on Wednesday. All but three of those who died were patients.

    State broadcaster CCTV reported that preliminary investigations suggested the blaze had been caused by “sparks generated during the internal renovation and construction of the inpatient department of the hospital”.

    The sparks “ignited the volatiles of the flammable paint on the site”, it said.

    Dozens of people were evacuated from the seven-storey building as the flames took hold, with 39 people being treated for injuries sustained in the fire. Three of them are in a critical condition, officials said, and 18 are in a serious condition.

    “There was a lot of smoke, I could see it,” an elderly resident who asked to be named only as Li told the Reuters news agency.

    Top city officials visited the site shortly after the fire with Beijing party secretary Yin Li promising to “quickly identify the cause of the accident and hold the relevant responsible persons accountable”.

    Investigators inside a burned-out room in the hospital on Tuesday night [Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo]

    On Wednesday, Sun Haitao from Beijing’s public security bureau announced 12 people, including the facility’s director, had been detained in connection with the fire, and that representatives from the company renovating the hospital were also being held.

    Investigation launched

    Dozens of onlookers gathered outside the entrance to the hospital on Wednesday, according to the AFP 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 photos.

    Social media users posted videos on Tuesday of people perched on external air conditioning units, while others appeared to have tied bedsheets into makeshift ropes to escape from the windows.

    The deaths were confirmed after the victims were taken to another unidentified hospital for emergency treatment, the report said.

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

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

    The Changfeng Hospital is about 25 minutes by car from central Tiananmen Square.

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

    Ten people died in an apartment block blaze in northwestern Xinjiang in November, with COVID-19 lockdowns blamed for hindering rescue efforts. The protests triggered by the deaths spread nationwide and led to the end of China’s zero-COVID strategy.



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