A huge fire in a shop’s basement has killed 39 people and injured nine in China’s Xinyu city on Wednesday.
Authorities in the province detained 12 people suspected to be responsible for the incident.
According to preliminary investigations, the fire resulted from construction work that violated regulations, as reported by the state-run Global Times.
Chinese president Xi Jinping called for an investigation into the incident and demanded the "resolute containment" of frequent fire incidents across the country.
It was the second fire incident in one week. Last week, 13 children died after a blaze engulfed a school dormitory in central Henan province.
Authorities said all the trapped people were rescued by 9pm and eight of the nine injured were in stable condition at the hospital. The condition of one of the injured was still unknown, according to the report.
The smoke from the fire spread till the second floor of the building, which was a training centre for students.
Visuals showed trapped students using a ladder and jumping from the building as intense black smoke filled the building.
The fire broke out at approximately 3pm from a street shop in the Yushui District of Xinyu. Rescue efforts have ended. #accident https://t.co/SMldmaRBZG https://t.co/EADaGuZA19 pic.twitter.com/2i2x7y8oYX
— Shanghai Daily (@shanghaidaily) January 24, 2024
Around 120 rescue teams, including firefighters, police and local government officials were rushed to the scene to conduct the rescue and relief work.
The search for those trapped inside continued through late Wednesday evening and the case of fire is under investigation.
An owner of a store near where the fire broke out said the basement floor of the building said the basement was not operational for business and the ground floor had a supermarket followed by a hotel and a training institute on the upper floors, according to Global Times.
Huge fires in China have remained an issue for the government due to lax enforcement of safety standards and violations of laws.
In November 2023, at least 26 people died after a huge fire swept through an office building in Luliang City, Shanxi province. It was a four-storey building of the Yongju Coal Industry Joint Building.
It was a month after 31 people died in an explosion at a barbecue restaurant in northwestern China that prompted a nationwide campaign to promote workplace safety.
Another fire in April last year in a hospital in Beijing killed at least 29 people, mostly patients. More than 12 people were detained by police during the investigation.