Death toll rises to 29 after Beijing hospital fire caused by 'electrical fault'
Published: Apr 19, 2023 12:04 PM
Photo: Zhang Changyue/GT

Photo: Zhang Changyue/GT

Photo: Zhang Changyue/GT

Photo: Zhang Changyue/GT

The death toll has risen to 29 after a fire on Tuesday at Beijing's Changfeng hospital. A preliminary investigation found the cause to be electric sparks caused by modification work, city authorities said at a Wednesday press briefing.

Death toll of the fire has climbed from 21 to 29 on Wednesday. Among the 29 dead, 26 are patients from the hospital, one is a family member of a patient, in addition to one care worker and one nurse, an official confirmed at the press conference. The average age of the patient victims is 71.2 years old.

A total of 39 people who were injured in the fire are receiving treatment, among which three are critically injured, and 18 are in severe condition.

At the press conference, Zhao Yang, official from Beijing's fire rescue corps said that an initial investigation shows that the fire in Beijing's Changfeng hospital was caused by construction inside the hospital, which generated sparks that ignited combustible materials.

A total of 12 people, including the head of the hospital, those in charge of the construction have been detained after the deadly fire, Sun Haitao, official from criminal investigation corps of Beijing's Public Security Bureau said at the conference.

Beijing authorities vowed to screen safety hazards in hospitals, nursing homes, tall buildings and underground spaces following the deadly incident.

The hospital has suspended outpatient services, and denied entry to the facility except for hospitalized patients, a Global Times reporter learned after visiting the site. The company's stock was suspended of trading on Wednesday.

When the Global Times reporter went to the site on Wednesday morning, the east wing of the hospital building, where the fire took place was blocked to the public. Parts of the building wall were burnt black. There were still people lining up at the front gate waiting to enter.

A receptionist at the hospital told the Global Times that the hospital suspended outpatient service, only allowing hospitalized patients and their direct relatives to enter.

A patient from North China's Shanxi Province, who was also waiting to enter, told the Global Times that the hospital refused to accommodate them on Wednesday and did not arrange other hospitals for them.

The Fengtai district fire department received report of the fire at 12:57 pm on Tuesday. The fire was put out at 1:33 pm, and the rescue work continued till 3:30 pm. At least 21 died as a result of the fire, local media reported.

The patient from Shanxi said he was informed of the fire when he was checked for electroencephalogram, "we pulled out the plug and ran."

He said that the evacuation was planned in orderly manner, a nurse was in charge of helping several patients evacuate. "We waited until 3 pm yesterday and went upstairs until they claimed it was safe to go."

The patient recalled that most of the injured were bedridden elderly patients; some died after being transferred to other hospitals; several doctors and nurses also sustained burns during the fire.

Another patient from Northwest China's Gansu Province told the Global Times that they arrived at the hospital on Tuesday noon around 11 am. She saw the black smoke spewing from the building and ran out.

She said that she was refused treatment after she went back. It took her days to register to see a specialist so she gave up and was planning to go back to Gansu instead.

Local new sources reported that those who lost contact are mainly the elderly, with family members still seeking to confirm the status of many who were in the hospital.

Other media outlets also reported that some family members of victims were not notified of the tragedy until they saw information on their news feeds.

Changfeng stock was suspended from trading on Wednesday citing a "major risk accident," according to media reports.

Beijing Life Insurance Co. initiated an emergency plan for the incident, including opening a green channel for victims of the incident, and took the initiative to screen for clients who may be victims of the fire.