May 30, 2024

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Beijing hospital fire kills at least 21 people


At least 21 people have died in a fire that tore through a hospital in China’s capital Beijing, state media CCTV reported on Tuesday.

Amateur video shows people hanging from the façade of the building while attempting to escape the blaze which started around 1 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) in what Chinese state media described as the inpatient department of Changfeng Hospital.

“As of 6pm local (6am EST), 21 people have unfortunately died,” CCTV said. Additionally, 71 patients were evacuated.

The blaze is one of the most deadly in Beijing in recent years, surpassing the toll from a fire in 2017 that killed 19 in a cramped two-story building in Daxing district in the capital’s southern suburb.

That tragedy prompted authorities to demolish large swathes of buildings deemed illegal or unsafe in the neighborhood and forced thousands of migrant workers out of their homes and businesses.

Investigators gather outside a hospital following a deadly fire in Beijing, Tuesday, April 18, 2023.

In videos shared on social media Tuesday, smoke can be seen billowing out of several hospital windows as people attempt to escape the blaze. At least one person appears to use a rope made from bedsheets to descend from a window to a lower level terrace.

Others people are seen either sitting on air conditioning units positioned on the exterior of the building, or trying to use the units to maneuver from one level to the next. One person is seen jumping from one level of the building to the lower terrace.

It is unclear if all those seen outside the building escaped the fire or not.

At least two ladders are seen leaning against the building amid rescue efforts.

Several other clips that showed the exterior of the building and were posted on Weibo have since been removed.

CCTV state media reports that the cause of the fire is under investigation.