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TAIPEI, Taiwan — A dozen people have been detained after a fire at a hospital in Beijing killed 29 people, Chinese authorities said Wednesday.
The fire broke out at around 1 pm Tuesday local time at Beijing Changfeng Hospital. Multiple videos of the fire. on social networks show smoke billowing from the multi-story white hospital. Desperate people trapped in the building climbed out of the hospital windows into the air conditioning units and lay on the sheets.
Authorities said 26 people who died in the fire were patients. The other three were a nurse, a medical assistant and a relative of a patient. At least 71 patients have been rescued, according to Chinese media.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated, according to officials in Beijing. But they said they believed it. caused by welding sparks construction in the hospitalization wing of the hospital.
Authorities detained 12 people, including the hospital director, his deputy, and construction workers.
Large-scale building fires are rare in the Chinese capital. In 2017, a deadly fire at an apartment building in the city’s southern suburb of Daxing claimed 19 lives. In 2002, another Internet cafe fire in Beijing killed 25 people.
Some people in China raised questions on social media about why they were only told about the hospital fire hours after it had been extinguished.
“Where is our right to know?” asked one social media user, after the first media reports were published on Monday night.
“Do we still have media in China? Do we still have investigative journalists?” questioned another.
In November, an apartment fire in Urumqi, the capital city of China’s western Xinjiang region, killed 10 people and sparked unusual protests across the country. Many protesters blamed the government’s strict COVID-19 controls for the tragedy.