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East China building fire caused by illegal use of fire: local officials


 , Updated 15:06, 25-Jan-2024
The building where a fire broke out in Xinyu City, east China's Jiangxi Province, January 25, 2024. /CFP
The building where a fire broke out in Xinyu City, east China's Jiangxi Province, January 25, 2024. /CFP

The building where a fire broke out in Xinyu City, east China's Jiangxi Province, January 25, 2024. /CFP

A deadly building fire in east China's Jiangxi Province was caused by illegal use of fire, said local authority at a press conference on Thursday morning.

The fire in Xinyu City which killed 39 and injured nine others broke out at around 3 p.m. on Wednesday after workers doing refurbishment of a cold storage inside the basement used fire illegally. According to Xu Hong, mayor of Xinyu, heavy smoke soon engulfed the first and second floor, trapping students at training facilities in the building and people in a hotel.

Some students from higher vocational schools were among the dead, and the local government is trying to comfort the families of the victims.

A total of 12 people responsible were taken into custody and are being investigated by the public security authorities.

After the incident happened, 118 rescuers with 20 fire engines rushed to the scene, putting out the fire at 6:50 p.m. The rescue operations concluded at 8:50 p.m., with no one remaining  trapped, said Gong Junhui, head of the fire brigade of Xinyu.

The city has launched an inspection to identify hidden fire hazards in all educational institutions, especially boarding schools, and ordered the suspension of all after-school training facilities, said Zeng Xianfeng, head of the education bureau of Xinyu.

Meanwhile, local government vowed to enhance regular monitoring at those venues, especially crowded places including kindergartens and schools to reduce fire hazards.

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing has called for the elimination of safety risks and the resolute containment of the frequent occurrence of recent accidents. Zhang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Wednesday night led a working team to Xinyu where the fire caused major casualties.

Upon his arrival, Zhang visited the injured in a hospital and inspected the rescue operation at the site of the accident.

Speaking at a meeting held in the early hours of Thursday, Zhang asked local authorities and relevant departments to go all-out to save the injured, take good care of the families of the victims, and promptly and accurately release information to address public concerns.

Authorities should immediately start the investigation into the cause of the accident and seriously hold accountable the people involved, Zhang said.

Zhang said more forceful and targeted measures should be taken to completely remove safety hazards and ensure there are no blind spots, especially in key places including crowded venues, in a bid to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of people's lives and property.

(With input from Xinhua)

Source(s): Xinhua News Agency
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