Hospital fire in Beijing kills at least 21 people

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – At least 21 people have died in a fire that tore through a hospital in China’s capital Beijing, state media CCTV reported on Tuesday.

Amateur video shows people hanging from the façade of the building while attempting to escape the blaze which started around 1 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) in what Chinese state media described as the inpatient department of Changfeng Hospital.

“As of 6pm local (6am EST), 21 people have unfortunately died,” CCTV said. Additionally, 71 patients were evacuated.

The blaze is one of the most deadly in Beijing in recent years, surpassing the toll from a fire in 2017 that killed 19 in a cramped two-story building in Daxing district in the capital’s southern suburb.

That tragedy prompted authorities to demolish large swathes of buildings deemed illegal or unsafe in the neighborhood and forced thousands of migrant workers out of their homes and businesses.

In videos shared on social media Tuesday, smoke can be seen billowing out of several hospital windows as people attempt to escape the blaze. At least one person appears to use a rope made from bedsheets to descend from a window to a lower level terrace.

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