18 killed, 16 injured in fire at China martial arts school

AFP
Beijing Published: Jun 25, 2021, 09:25 AM(IST)

China flag (file photo) Photograph:( AFP )

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Local media reported that most of the victims were boarding pupils aged between seven and 16.

At least 18 people were killed and 16 injured when a fire broke out at a martial arts school in central China in the early hours of Friday, according to a local government statement.

Local media reported that most of the victims were boarding pupils aged between seven and 16.

The fire had been extinguished and authorities were investigating the cause of the blaze, the statement from Zhecheng county government said.

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There were 34 boarding students on the premises when the fire broke out, according to local government staff quoted by Beijing Toutiao News. 

The manager of the centre in rural Zhecheng county, Henan province, was arrested by police, the statement said. 

The injured -- four of whom had severe injuries -- were rushed to a local hospital, where an unnamed doctor told local media they were "doing everything they could" to save them. 

Fatal fires are common in China, where safety regulations are widely flouted and enforcement is often lax.

More than two dozen people were killed in two blazes in Beijing's migrant neighbourhoods in 2017.

The first fire, which killed 19 people in November that year, prompted authorities to begin tearing down unsafe buildings in the capital, driving hundreds of thousands of residents out in the middle of winter.

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