Preliminary investigations show the fire in E.China’s Jiangxi killing 39 caused by violation in construction work;12 individuals responsible detained

(Global Times) 08:33, January 25, 2024

Photo: Sina Weibo

Photo: Sina Weibo

A fire that broke out in a building basement in east China’s Jiangxi Province killed 39 and injured another nine people, the local fire disaster emergency response headquarters said after the rescue concluded on Wednesday evening. Preliminary investigations revealed that the fire was caused by violation of regulations in construction work. Local authorities detained 12 individuals responsible for the incident.

As of 8:50 pm, all the trapped personnel had been rescued. Eight of the nine injured were in stable condition except for one who was still being rescued as of press time by 10 pm. All the injured people are relatively young, according to China Youth Daily.

The building where the fire started was a six-story mixed-use brick-and-concrete structure. The fire originated in the basement and rapidly spread to the commercial shops on the first and second floors.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the fire was caused by construction workers conducting welding work in violation of regulations during the renovation of a cold storage room in the basement. Due to the intense flames, the fire could not be extinguished promptly, and thick smoke spread through the stairwell to the second floor, where a training center and a hotel were located. The individuals trapped were mainly students attending college-level training courses and hotel guests.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has issued instructions regarding the fire incident, urging a resolute curb on the trend of frequent and consecutive safety accidents, to ensure the safety of people's lives and property and to maintain the overall social stability.

China’s National Health Commission immediately dispatched national-level medical experts specialized in respiratory, critical care and burn to provide full guidance and support to Jiangxi to ensure the medical treatment and rescue efforts for the injured.

The national expert team together with the local medical staffers have formed a joint treatment team to conduct multidisciplinary consultations and provide psychological counseling for the injured. They also formulated personalized treatment plan for each patient, to ensure the effect of the medical treatment with all-out efforts.

China’s Ministry of Emergency Management has continued to coordinate and deploy rescue and response efforts after receiving the report of the fire accident. It has instructed and organized efficient forces for search and rescue operation, urging them to use various channels to promptly determine the number of casualties and trapped individuals, and spare no effort to treat the injured at any cost. Officials from the ministry rushed to the scene to guide rescue work.

Officials from the fire emergency respond headquarters in the Yushui district of Xinyu city in Jiangxi said the fire broke out in the basement of a shopping area at 3:24 pm on Wednesday. After the fire broke out, 120 rescue teams, firefighters, police and local government officials were deployed to the scene.

Upon receiving the alarm from the public, local fire and rescue teams arrived at the scene within 7 minutes to commence the rescue operation. A total of 20 fire trucks and 118 firefighters from 10 stations were dispatched, along with local government officials and personnel from emergency services, health, and education departments. Local authorities organized five rounds of search and rescue operations and, in accordance with the law, detained 12 individuals responsible for the incident.

As of 8 pm on Wednesday, at least 39 people have died, nine injured, and others still trapped. The injured people are being treated in hospital.

The local government said on Wednesday evening that the search and rescue operations are still underway, and that the cause of the fire is under investigation.

An owner of a store located less than 100 meters from the incident said that the shop on fire was situated on the basement floor of the building with shops facing the street. It was still under renovation, not yet open for business. The ground floor of this building houses a supermarket, while upstairs, there is a hotel and a training institution.

According to eyewitnesses, after the fire broke out, several people were seen jumping from the second-floor windows onto the mats placed below, where police officers below got them one after another.

According to a person familiar with the area, the compound where the building is situated is an old residential compound. Apart from the basement on fire, there are five to six stories above the ground with the first and second floors mainly situated shops. The floors above the shops are residential apartments.

According to CCTV, the building that caught on fire has an internet café and a training institution.

According to a previous report by the integration media center of Xinyu city, the compound without property management department is made up of six buildings which house a total of 132 households with about 300 permanent residents.

There are serious issues of disorder and untidiness within the community, including problems such as parking disorder of vehicles, planting vegetables in the public green belts, and the unauthorized construction of toilets. In order to improve the appearance of the community, a renovation was carried out in October of 2023.

According to Nanfang Metropolis Daily, two people were killed in a fire accident at a shopping mall in Xinyu city on December 21, 2023. The city’s firefighting brigade exposed 15 units with fire hazards on December 31, 2023 after a rectification campaign was carried out in the same month. Among the 15 units, seven were located in Yushui district.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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