Government will carry out a month-long inspection of orphanages run by individuals and private operators after a house fire that claimed seven young lives in Henan province, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The local government in Lankao county was under fire after it admitted that it had tolerated an illegally run orphanage operated by Yuan Lihai, a noodle vendor, for years.
Yuan has become a local celebrity after taking in about a hundred abandoned children since the 1980s, and she was often interviewed by mainland media.
The fire broke out at Yuan's home on Friday, killing one 20-year-old man and six children aged from seven months to about five years old, the local government said in an official statement on its website.
On Saturday, the county government said Yuan illegally took in and cared for abandoned children, but the government turned a blind eye to it in consideration of her "kind-hearted acts", reported People.com.cn.
"There is a direct relationship between today's situation and the fact that some government departments failed to enforce supervision and loosened management on purpose," deputy county governor Wu Changsheng told a news conference. "They should shoulder their responsibility."
However, the local government later dropped the term "illegal" and said Yuan had raised abandoned children in private. It remains unclear whether Yuan will face any criminal charge. All the surviving children have been transferred to government-run facilities.
Yuan, 48, was admitted to hospital yesterday for high blood pressure.
Additional reporting by Associated Press in Beijing