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China: 13 dead in school dormitory fire

January 20, 2024

Despite firefighters arriving quickly at the scene, 13 people at the school in central China's Henan province were reported dead following the overnight blaze.

Rescuers prepare rescue equipment in Pingdingshan City, central China's Henan Province, Jan. 13, 2024. They were responding to an accident at a coal mine.
Firefighters were said to have arrived quickly on the scene; this image shows rescue workers operating elsewhere in Henan province earlier in the monthImage: Xinhua News Agency/picture alliance

Over a dozen people have died after a school's dormitory went up in flames in central China late on Friday, state news outlets like Xinhua reported on Saturday morning. 

The fire broke out at around 11:00 pm (1500 GMT) at the Yingcai School in the village of Yanshanpu in central China's Henan province.

Thirteen people were confirmed dead while one person was injured, Xinhua reported.

"Rescuers arrived at the scene quickly and the flames were extinguished at 11:38 p.m.," it added.

The injured survivor "is currently receiving treatment at the hospital and is in stable condition", according to Xinhua.

It was not immedeately clear how many of the deceased were children.

Meanwhile local authorities were said to have launched an investigation into the cause of the fire. At least one person linked to the boarding school had reportedly been detained. 

China's lax of safety measures

Deadly fires are a common occurence in China where safety measures are often bypassed or insufficiently enforced.

Just in November, 26 people dead in a coal fire in China's Shanxi province. Before that, in April 2023, a hospital fire killed 29 people.

After the coal fire in November, Chinese President Xi Jinping had called for the country to improve emergency plans and prevention measures.

mk/msh (AFP, Reuters)