China: At least 26 people killed, dozens injured after fire in coal mining firm’s office

At least 26 people have been killed and dozens of others have been injured and hospitalised after a massive fire broke out at a coal company’s office building in China’s northern Shanxi province, reported the state media, on Thursday (Nov 16). In a later update, the state broadcaster CCTV reported that the fire has since been “brought under control”. 

What happened?

The fire broke out at around 6:50 am (local time) in a four-storey building belonging to the Yongju coal company in Luliang City located in the country’s top coal-producing hub of Shanxi, said the Chinese media citing local officials. 

CCTV initially reported the fire killed 11 people but later raised the death toll to 26. The Chinese broadcaster also reported that 63 people had been evacuated, 51 of whom were hospitalised.

“Rescue work is still in progress and the cause of the fire is under investigation,” reported CCTV. In a subsequent update, it said that the fire had “now been brought under control”. 

A report by AFP citing video footage posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo said bright flames and thick black smoke was seen billowing from the building, while dozens of people stood in the parking lot watching. 

Emergency response personnel could be seen in the footage racing to put on protective gear outside a fire truck parked at the building’s entrance, reported the news agency citing the footage. 

Deadly fires in China

The recent fire also comes months after 29 people were killed after a blaze ripped through a hospital in the capital city of Beijing. The incident garnered criticism from the public for local authorities on social media sites.

However, industrial accidents are common in China due to lax safety standards and poor enforcement. In July, 11 people died after the roof of a school gym collapsed in the country’s northeast.

The month before, at least 31 people were killed after an explosion at a barbecue restaurant in northwestern China prompting a nationwide campaign to promote workplace safety. 

One of the worst such accidents took place in 2015 in the Chinese city of Tianjin where an explosion at a chemical warehouse killed at least 165 people.

(With inputs from agencies)

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