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Death Toll Rises in Beijing Hospital Fire


Investigators inspect burnt out corridor following a fire at a hospital in Beijing, April 19, 2023.

Authorities in Beijing say 29 people were killed in a hospital fire in the Chinese capital Tuesday.

The fire broke out in the east wing of the Beijing Changfeng Hospital, which is located in the Chinese capital’s western Fengtai district. Li Zongrong, the deputy head of the Fengtai district, told reporters Wednesday the victims include 26 patients, two hospital staffers and a family member.

Officials say a total of 39 people were injured in the fire, including three in critical condition.

Video posted on social media showed people climbing out of windows on ropes made of bedsheets tied together, while others were seen sitting on air conditioning units installed outside the windows. The fire was quickly extinguished, but left the exterior of the building stained with soot.

An official with Beijing’s public security bureau said twelve people have been detained in connection with the fire, including the hospital’s director and the head of the construction crew doing renovation work at the hospital’s inpatient wing. A preliminary investigation suggests the fire may have been caused when sparks generated by welding ignited inflammable paint.

The fire is apparently the worst in Beijing in two decades. Deadly fires are common in China due to lax enforcement of safety standards.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.