10 killed, 9 injured in fire at apartment under COVID lockdown in China’s Xinjiang province

NewsDrum Desk
25 Nov 2022

Beijing, Nov 25 (PTI) At least 10 people were killed and nine injured in a fire at a high-rise residential building reportedly under coronavirus lockdown restrictions in China's Xinjiang province, officials said on Friday, days after another major blaze left 38 people dead in central China.

It took firefighters about three hours to douse the fire in the bedroom of a 21-floor residential building, with the furniture, bedding, and other daily necessities catching fire, in Tianshan district of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on Thursday night, the local fire department said.

Ten people died despite emergency treatment, and nine others who sustained injuries are stable, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

However, later reports and social media posts said the building was under COVID lockdown restrictions.

According to a report in the state-run Global Times, the community where the building is located is a COVID low-risk area and the residents could go down.

But a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said such official media reports were greeted with skepticism online, with web users questioning whether that was really the case.

Records from the Xinjiang health commission show no evidence that the Jianxiang complex had been moved to the low-risk level, the report said.

Web users also questioned why it took four hours for firefighters to put out the blaze.

Multiple video clips uploaded to live-streaming platforms and Weibo have shown fire engines apparently unable to gain access to the complex and stuck in narrow lanes next to some barricades, the Post report said.

Since August 10, Urumqi has been enduring its longest and toughest Covid lockdown.

Despite the stringent zero-COVID policy of drastically restricting international travel for over three years and periodic lockdowns of scores of cities, including the capital Beijing, coronavirus cases were on the sharp increase in recent weeks in China.

On Thursday, China reported a record 31,444 infections, the highest since the lockdown of Shanghai city in April.

On Friday, China’s National Health Commission reported more than 32,695 local infections, another record.

In Beijing, health officials locked down more apartment buildings, confining people to their flats as cases continued to rise in the city, which virtually wore a deserted look in the last few days.

Thursday’s fire incident at Urumqi was the second such incident in China this week.

On November 22, a massive fire broke out at a cloth manufacturing plant in central China's Henan province that left 38 people dead and two others injured.

Preliminary investigation revealed that sparks during welding operations caused the fire, igniting cotton fabric in the factory.

In August 2015, over 170 people were killed and 700 injured when blasts ripped through a warehouse in Tianjin Port where large amounts of toxic chemicals were stored, including around 700 tonnes of sodium cyanide.

China suffers frequent deadly fires and industrial accidents which are often the result of negligence. PTI KJV PY AKJ PY PY

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