A fire at Beijing Changfeng Hospital killed at least 21 people and forced dozens of others to evacuate on Tuesday. According to Chinese state media, the fire broke out in the east wing of the hospital’s inpatient department. Emergency crews have since extinguished the fire, and at least 71 patients were rescued.
As the fire spread, people trapped in the multistory building tied bedsheets into makeshift ropes and escaped by climbing out windows, as seen in videos circulating on social media. Others took refuge by perching on air conditioning units just outside the building. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Most of the hospital building appeared to be without power late on Tuesday, with only a few windows illuminated by the flickering flashlights of workers inside. The exterior of the building was blackened and charred in places, and police cars could be seen parked at the north entrance.
The incident has sparked outrage and raised questions about the safety of hospitals in China. Some netizens criticized the lack of emergency planning and inadequate fire safety measures in hospitals across the country. Others demanded accountability for the tragedy.
As of early Wednesday, there was no official word on how many of the dead were patients or how many people may have been injured. A telephone call to the hospital seeking comment on Tuesday went unanswered.
In response to the incident, the Beijing municipal government has ordered all hospitals in the city to conduct safety inspections and rectify any problems discovered. The government also ordered the suspension of all non-emergency renovations and construction work in hospitals in the city.
This is not the first time a hospital fire has occurred in China. In 2018, a fire at a hospital in Guangdong province killed 18 people and injured 189 others. The incident prompted the Chinese government to launch a nationwide safety inspection of hospitals.
The latest incident has once again highlighted the need for improved safety measures and emergency planning in hospitals across the country. It is a reminder that the safety and well-being of patients and healthcare workers must be a top priority.