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Hotel fire at Chinese spa resort kills 20

Mon 27 Aug 2018, 12:19:42
A fire tore through a hotel in the northeast Chinese city of Harbin claiming the lives of 20 people in the small hours of Saturday.

The fire broke out at 4.36 am in the four-story Beilong Hot Spring Leisure Hotel in Songbei District.

According to local fire officials, the blaze started in a kitchen on the second floor before sweeping through an area of about 400 square metres. The building then collapsed due to the damage it had suffered.

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About 100 firefighters in 30 fire engines arrived at the scene at 5.03 am. The fire was extinguished at 7.50 am, with the emergency services managing to save 20 people trapped inside. A further 80 had already been evacuated from the building.

However, firefighters found 18 people dead, while two more succumbed to their injuries at a nearby hospital. Around twenty people are reported to be suffering from differing effects caused by the blaze, the local government has said on its social media account.

Data from the provincial fire department shows that the agency conducted six fire safety inspections at the hotel between December 2017 and April 2018. However, the facility failed to pass four of these tests.

Local news media report that most of the guests on that day were part of an elderly tour group from Beijing. Their trip was part of a reward from a Beijing-based company for purchasing a large quantity of healthcare products.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Emergency Management urged an all-out effort to complete the rescue, before announcing that it was sending a work team to Harbin to guide the investigation. The municipal government is launching a city-wide safety inspection.

The exact cause of the incident remains under investigation.
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