19 dead and 23 injured in hotel fire at Chinese resort
Investigation has begun at the hotel in Harbin’s Sun Island resort area after the blaze early on Saturday
About 19 people were killed and 23 people injured in a fire at a resort hotel in China’s northeastern city of Harbin early on Saturday, the local government said.
According to an official report on the government’s social media account, the fire broke out at 4:36am at North Loong Hotel in Harbin’s Sun Island resort area. It was put out in about three hours.
By 11:30am, the government said, firefighters had searched the site thoroughly, with 24 injured people having been taken to hospital, of whom one later died.
The cause of the fire was under investigation, the government said. The provincial fire department said in an official post that the fire had started from the kitchen on the second floor, but gave no further details.
The fire spread to cover about 400 square metres of the four-storey brick-and-concrete block, partially burning the second, third and fourth floors, according to a report from state-run China Central Television.
Its footage from the site also showed that the hotel’s main hall had burned down.
The disaster added to a string of deadly blazes that have plagued China despite official efforts to improve public safety over the past two decades.
The ruling Communist Party has tried to improve fire safety following fatal accidents at hotels, shopping malls and apartment buildings. But the country still suffers major fires.
In November, a fire blamed on faulty wiring at a Beijing apartment building killed 19 people.
A 2010 blaze at a Shanghai apartment tower killed at least 58 people. Authorities blamed sparks from a welder’s torch.
Xinhua reported last year that there had been 312,000 fire accidents across China in 2016, which in total killed 1,582 people, injured 1,065 and caused a direct financial loss of 3.72 billion yuan (US$543 million), although all three totals were about 10 per cent down from the previous year.
The report said the top causes of fire accidents included ignoring electrical safety information, careless use of fire, and smoking.