A fire that broke out at the private Changfeng Hospital in Beijing on Tuesday afternoon resulted in the death of 29 people, including 26 patients, a nurse, a medical assistant, and a family member. The incident has raised concerns about safety measures and construction standards in China.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, but officials believe it originated from welding sparks from work being done in the hospital’s inpatient wing. Among the 12 people who have been detained in connection with the incident are the hospital’s head and her deputy, as well as the head of the construction crew.
The fire forced dozens of people to evacuate, with some who were trapped having to escape from windows using bedsheets tied together. Rescue crews and medical staff from around the city were mobilized, with squads plucking some of the 142 people who were evacuated from air conditioning units on the building’s exterior. A total of 39 people are being treated for injuries, with three of them in critical condition.
According to Li Zongrong, deputy head of Fengtai district, accidents of this nature are often the result of corners being cut on work hours and safety conditions, while local officials may be bribed to overlook violations. Safety rules are frequently ignored in China, but accidents on the level of the Changfeng fire are treated with a much higher level of scrutiny.
The Chinese government has pledged to strengthen safety measures since a chemical warehouse explosion in 2015 in Tianjin killed 173 people, mostly firefighters and police officers. Despite these efforts, incidents like the Changfeng Hospital fire continue to occur, highlighting the need for greater attention to safety and construction standards.
This tragic incident serves as a reminder that safety should always be a top priority, especially in critical facilities such as hospitals, where the lives of patients and healthcare professionals are at stake. It is crucial that the investigation into the cause of the fire is conducted thoroughly and transparently to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.