BEIJING – Twelve people have been detained in connection with a fire that killed 29 at a Beijing hospital, including the facilitys director, city police said on Wednesday.
Mr Sun Haitao from Beijings public security bureau told a press conference that representatives from a company renovating the hospital had also been detained.
Emergency response teams first received word just before 1pm on Tuesday that a fire had broken out at the Beijing Changfeng Hospital in the capital citys Fengtai District, the Communist Party-run Beijing Daily said.
The fire was extinguished about half an hour later and rescue efforts continued for another two hours, by which time 71 patients had been evacuated.
Social media users posted videos on Tuesday of people sitting on external air-conditioning units, while others clinging to ropes jumped from the building. The videos could not be independently verified, but AFP has geolocated the building in the footage to the hospital.
The death toll has risen to 29, said Mr Li Zongrong, the deputy mayor of Beijings Fengtai district, who expressed his deep condolences.
No further details were available on the number of people who suffered injuries due to the fire, or the condition of the victims.
State broadcaster CCTV reported that a preliminary probe revealed 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, said CCTV.
Journalists on Wednesday saw dozens of onlookers outside the entrance of the hospital, where a large number of police officers were stationed, discouraging people from taking photos.
Some of the hospitals windows appeared blackened and at least one was broken, with soot marks visible on parts of the facade.
It was not immediately clear if all the occupants of the hospital had been found and evacuated from the fire, which was in the east building of the private hospitals inpatient department.
Many family members have 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 on the scene on Wednesday said the city will probably make the appropriate arrangements to take care of victims relatives. An investigator looks at fire damage at the Changfeng Hospital in Beijing on April 19, 2023, after a fire broke out a day earlier. PHOTO: AFP Beijing Changfeng Hospital is located in the capitals western urban area, about 25 minutes by car from 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 north-western Xinjiang in November, sparking protests against Covid-19 lockdowns blamed for hindering rescue efforts.
Also in November, 38 people were killed in a fire at a factory in central China, with the authorities blaming workers for illegal welding. AFP Embed Twitter Tweet URL More On This Topic 21 dead in Beijing hospital fire, dozens of patients evacuated Chinese factory fire that killed 38 caused by illegal welding: Media