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Beijing hospital fire kills 29 and leaves numerous injured.

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A city official confirmed on Wednesday that at least 29 people were killed and dozens injured in a fire that targeted a hospital in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

The fire broke out in Beijing Changfeng Hospital in Fengtai District at around 1:00 p.m. (05:00 GMT) on Tuesday and was extinguished about half an hour later.

Li Zongrong, deputy mayor of the district, expressed his “deepest condolences” as he announced the new toll at a press conference.

Twelve people, including the director of the facility, have been arrested in connection with the fire, said Sun Haitao of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, adding that representatives from a hospital renovation company were among those detained.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that a preliminary investigation revealed that the fire was caused by “sparks generated during the internal renovation and construction of the hospital’s inpatient department”.

CCTV said the sparks “ignited flammable paint volatiles at the site”.

Social media users posted videos, on Tuesday, of people sitting on outdoor air-conditioning units, while others jumped clinging to ropes from the building.

He told me that the victims were 16 women and 13 men.

“We feel deep remorse and guilt,” he told reporters.

“On behalf of the Fengtai District Party Committee and the provincial government, I express our deepest condolences to the victims, express our sincere condolences to the families and relatives of the victims and the injured, and apologize to the people of the entire city.”

39 in the hospital

CCTV reported that of the 29 dead, 26 were hospital patients, two were hospital staff and one was a patient’s family member.

There are still 78 patients receiving treatment in the hospital, CCTV said, and they have been transferred to the western building of the facility.

The state-run People’s Daily reported that as of Wednesday morning, 39 people had been treated in hospital for injuries, and three others had been discharged.

Senior city officials visited the hospital shortly after the fire, and Beijing Party Secretary Yin Li vowed to “quickly identify the cause of the accident and hold relevant officials accountable,” according to the Beijing Daily.

On Wednesday, AFP journalists saw dozens of onlookers outside the entrance to the hospital, where a large number of police officers are stationed, discouraging people from taking pictures.

Some of the hospital’s windows appeared blackened and at least one was broken, and parts of the facade showed traces of soot.

China Youth Daily said in a separate report on Wednesday that many family members had lost contact with patients, with the missing mostly elderly people with mobility problems.

A police officer at the scene told AFP on Wednesday that the city “will likely make appropriate arrangements” to take care of the victims’ relatives.

Beijing Changfeng Hospital is located in the western urban area of ​​the capital, about 25 minutes’ drive from Tiananmen Square.

Deadly fires are common in China due to poor safety standards and lax law enforcement.

Ten people died in a fire in an apartment building in northwest Xinjiang in November, sparking protests against COVID-19 lockdowns that have been blamed for hampering rescue efforts.

Also in November, 38 people were killed in a factory fire in central China, with illegal welding operations blamed on workers.

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