A fire at a hospital in China left 29 dead. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)
Twelve people were detained in a Beijing hospital fire that killed at least 29 people, authorities announced Wednesday, the day after the deadliest catastrophe in the Chinese capital since 2002.
The fire broke out at the Changfeng hospital in Fengtai district on Tuesday shortly before 1:00 p.m. (local time).
The incident left 29 dead, according to the latest balance released this Wednesday by the vice mayor of Fengtai, Li Zongrong.
Among the 12 detainees are the director of the hospital and representatives of a company in charge of renovating the medical center, Sun Haitao of the Beijing public security office said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Around the establishment there was a strong police presence and groups of onlookers who were observing and recording the place with their phones, AFP journalists found.
The fire broke out at the Changfeng hospital in Fengtai district on Tuesday shortly before 1:00 p.m. (local time). (PHOTO: REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)
The building did not appear excessively damaged from the outside, but images of the interior published by the Caixin economic outlet showed completely charred beds and blackened walls.
The flames were put out half an hour after the fire started and relief teams evacuated 71 patients over the next two hours, the official Beijing Daily newspaper said.
Images were shared on social media of people trying to protect themselves from the flames by sitting on the outdoor units of air conditioning systems or clinging to sheets before jumping out of the hospital.
No further details were given on the number of people injured in the fire or the condition of the victims.
The building did not appear excessively damaged from the outside, but images of the interior published by a local media outlet showed completely charred beds and blackened walls. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)
“The number one priority is to treat the wounded,” said Yin Li, secretary of the Communist Party in Beijing, who went to the scene, according to the official newspaper.
He recommended “setting up a work team at the municipal level”, among other issues to “quickly identify the cause of the accident and hold responsible persons accountable, in accordance with the law.”
AFP journalists on Wednesday observed dozens of people in front of the hospital entrance, where a large police contingent was asking people not to take photos.
Some hospital windows looked blackened and at least one was broken, and there were soot stains on parts of the facade.
It was not initially clear if all the occupants of the hospital had been found and evacuated from the fire, in the east building of the private hospital’s inpatient department.
Rescue teams evacuated 71 patients over the next two hours. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Tingshu Wang)
The deaths were confirmed after the victims were taken to an unidentified hospital for emergency treatment, according to the Beijing Daily.
Relatives of the patients said they had lost contact with their relatives admitted, mainly older people with difficulties to move, said the also official Diario de la Juventud.
A police officer at the site told AFP on Wednesday that the city “will probably make the necessary arrangements to assist the relatives of the victims.”
Changfeng Hospital is located in the west of the capital, about a 25-minute drive from Tiananmen Square.
Deadly fires are common in China due to weak safety standards.
Ten people died in November in a fire at an apartment building in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, sparking protests against lockdowns to contain COVID-19 outbreaks.
(With information from AFP)
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