A total of 24 persons were killed and 13 others injured in a cyber cafe fire in suburban Beijing early this morning.
The fire broke out at around 2:40 in the Lanjisu Cyber Cafe located in the No.20 compound, Xueyuan Lu, Haidian District. Beijing's fire department sent fire engines to the scene right after getting the alarm, and the fire was put out by 3:30.
Haidian is the site of Beijing University and Tsinghua University, two of China's most prestigious schools. The area has a large student population and also is the center of China's growing computer and high-technology industries.
Internet cafes, many open 24 hours, are immensely popular in China, which says it has 33.7 million Internet users but where many families can't afford to buy a computer. The biggest cafes, especially near universities, have hundreds of terminals.
In December 2000, a fire at a discotheque in the central city of Luoyang killed 309 people. Investigators blamed the high death toll on locked emergency exits. Twenty-three people held responsible were sentenced to prison terms of up to 13 years.