Hotel fire in northeast China kills 10, injures 35

Building fires are common in China because of lax safety codes and unsafe construction work.

Beijing: A fire at a hotel in northeastern China killed 10 people and injured 35 others Sunday, while lightning sparked several forest fires in another part of the country, a state news agency said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the fire at a hotel in Tonghua city in Jilin province early Sunday was put out after half an hour. The report did not mention what caused the blaze.

A staffer at the Tonghua city government`s office for emergencies confirmed the number of casualties but said he had no other details. He refused to give his name, as is common with Chinese officials.

The injured were sent to a hospital for treatment and firefighters were combing the site, Xinhua said.

State broadcaster CCTV said three of the injured were in critical condition and that 150 people were evacuated from the seven-story building. About 140 firefighters were deployed to the site, it said.

The fire started on the first floor of a stairwell and spread to the second and third floors, covering an area of about 3,200 square feet (300 square meters) and sending dense smoke up to the higher floors, CCTV said.

Building fires are common in China because of lax safety codes and unsafe construction work. In November, 58 people were killed in a Shanghai apartment fire that was blamed on welders ignoring safety precautions. Last week, an illegal garment shop in southern Beijing caught fire, killing 17 people.

Also Sunday, thousands of firefighters in northern Shanxi province were trying to extinguish more than 10 fires in a forest bordering the cities of Jingzhong and Yangquan, Xinhua said. The blazes were sparked by lightning, it said.

A staffer surnamed Li at the Shanxi provincial forest fire prevention headquarters said the fires were "under control" but not extinguished, and that no casualties had been reported.

Bureau Report