Xi urges production safety after deadly fire accident kills 38 in C.China
Published: Nov 22, 2022 11:30 AM Updated: Nov 23, 2022 12:00 AM
Local fire and rescue detachment is working to extinguish the fire in Anyang, Central China's Henan Province on November 21. Photo: CCTV News

Local fire and rescue detachment is working to extinguish the fire in Anyang, Central China's Henan Province on November 21. Photo: CCTV News

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday urged local governments to put the people and their lives first and stressed responsibility for production safety in order to prevent major accidents, after a fire broke out in Anyang, Central China's Henan Province that killed 38 people and injured two. 

Xi gave important instructions on the accident, stressing that efforts should be made to treat the injured, properly comfort families of the victims and deal with the aftermath, the cause of the accident should be identified, and those responsible should be held accountable seriously in accordance with the law.

The president required local authorities to learn a profound lesson from the Henan accident, fully investigate and rectify all kinds of risks and hidden dangers, and resolutely prevent and curb major accidents.

The official account of Anyang authorities on Tuesday released a notice about the blaze, stating that on Monday evening, Anyang's fire and rescue detachment received a public alarm over a fire at a trading company in Wenfeng district.

After receiving the alarm, the city's fire and rescue detachment immediately dispatched forces to the scene, and public security, emergency, power supply and other joint working units rushed to the scene to carry out emergency treatment and rescue work.

A merchant surnamed Chen who witnessed the accident said on Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform, that the smoke was coming from the east side of his store. The factory was thick with black smoke, and soon the smell of burning items reached the store.

At about 8 pm, the fire was largely extinguished, before being completely subdued three hours later. A total of 63 fire trucks and 240 firefighters from local fire service departments participated in the rescue mission.

According to preliminary reports, the accident killed 38 people as of Tuesday. Two people were hospitalized with minor injuries. 

Suspects believed to be behind the accident were taken into police custody on Tuesday. According to the disposal team on site, the accident was caused by the illegal operation of electric welding.

From the location shown on the map, the company involved is surrounded by enterprises engaged in the electrical, steel, textile and logistics sectors, and fabric markets. 

According to the Xinhua News Agency, the company was mainly engaged in the production of knitted clothing. The first floor of the workshop was the warehouse, and the second floor was the production line. Recently, cotton clothes and trousers were being processed in the factory.

Based on the preliminary information, the cause of the accident is that during the welding operation in the warehouse on the first floor, some cotton wool drifted by and caught fire, which ignited a large amount of cloth stacked in the workshop, a person responsible for emergency management told Xinhua. The smoke caused some workers on the second floor to suffocate, and they died without having time to escape.

Chinese experts suggested that to prevent such accidents, enterprises - especially those that have potential risks - should have more targeted and effective emergency plans. 

Wang Hongwei, a professor from the School of Public Administration and Policy with the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday that it is also important for enterprises and factories to conduct emergency plan training and drills for employees. 

"Besides, the training of safety awareness and escape skills should be carried out for each employee. A lot of people think they will be lucky and that the tragedy would not happen to them. This is wrong," Wang said.

In the aftermath of the incident, provincial authorities and relevant departments arrived at the scene to coordinate search and rescue work. Family members of the victims are being consoled and have been offered psychological counseling.

On Tuesday morning, local officials held a teleconference on production safety in Anyang, which stressed that all units should draw lessons from the fire, comprehensively investigate existing problems and weak links, and earnestly safeguard the bottom line of production safety.