Beijing: A massive wild fire in Tibet`s mountainous Sichuan province on Sunday killed at least 22 people, including 15 Chinese soldiers during rescue operation, officials said.
Of the 22 killed, 15 were soldiers, two workers with the grassland administration while five others were local civilians, officials said.
Three others who sustained sever burn injuries were rushed to the hospitals, state-run a news agency reported.
The grassland fire, which spread fast, proved deadly when it trapped soldiers and local residents trying to put out the blaze. This is one of the highest casualties China`s
People`s Liberation Army suffered in recent times.
The wild fire was raging through a grassland atop a plateau in Daofu County, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, Sichuan province.
Daofu sits in a forest-covered area at the eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. It has a population of 45,000, about 89 percent of whom are ethnic Tibetans.
About 500 mu (33.3 hectares) of the grassland has burned, while 200 mu (13 hectares) is still on fire, officials said.
The fire broke out at noon and was brought under control at about 3 pm. However, gusting winds reignited the flames and trapped people fighting the fire, officials said.
A string of deadly fires hit China in recent weeks as most parts of the country brace for a dry winter. Fifty-eight people were killed in a Shanghai high-rise fire on November
Among the 71 others who were injured, more than 30 remain in hospitals, including 11 in serious conditions, doctors said.