1681894857 origin 1

At least 29 dead as flames rage in Beijing hospital

origin 1Investigators inspect the burnt corridor following a fire at a Beijing hospital on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. ©Andy Wong/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

At least 29 people have died in a fire at a Beijing hospital that forced the evacuation of dozens of patients, Chinese state media reported.

Staff removed 71 people after a fire broke out in the inpatient ward of Beijing’s Changfeng Hospital on Tuesday.

Videos of the fire circulating on social media show black smoke billowing from the building, with some people climbing out of windows using what appear to be makeshift ropes made from bed sheets.

Li Zongrong, deputy mayor of Beijing’s Fengtai district, expressed his “deep condolences” as he announced the death toll at a press conference.

Twelve people, including the facility’s director, have been arrested in connection with the fire, the Beijing Public Security Bureau said, adding that representatives of a company that is renovating the hospital were also detained.

State broadcaster CCTV said a preliminary investigation revealed the fire was caused by “sparks generated during the internal renovation and construction of the hospital’s ward”.