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Fire At China Martial Arts Centre Kills 18, Mostly Children

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Fire At China Martial Arts Centre Kills 18, Mostly ChildrenFire outbreak at a martial arts training centre in China in the early hours of Friday morning, June 25 have killed 18 people, with state media saying most of the deceased were children who living there.

The blaze broke out at 3 a.m. (1900 GMT Thursday) and was later extinguished, the government of Zhecheng county, in Henan province, said on its website, Reuters reports.

The children, aged between seven and 16, were asleep on the second floor when the blaze broke out at the martial arts centre.

A total of 34 students were enrolled at the boarding school in Shuangqiu city’s Zhecheng county.

Four people were severely injured and 12 sustained minor wounds in the fire, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper quoted local official media reports as saying.

In a social media post, Zhonghong, a news outlet backed by China’s state planner, identified the centre as Zhenxing Martial Arts Centre.

An eyewitness said he heard the children screaming for help, saying;

All the children screamed and we tried to help by pouring water on the fire, but it didn’t stop. It eventually got so fierce there was simply no way for adults to get close.

All doctors at the local hospital were mobilised to treat the victims.

The owner of the school, Chen Lin, has been taken away by officials for investigation.

Zheng, father of one of the children admitted to hospital, told Reuters;

My kid is 9 years old, but I know nothing about his current situation. We can’t see him or visit him,” said Zheng, the father of one of the children admitted to hospital.

At Zhenxing, the kids would study and practice martial arts in the day and live there every night. I don’t know what caused the fire.

A 39-year-old father simply identified as Xu was filled with relief that his son was among the survivors, saying;

It’s extremely lucky that my son escaped from the fire, but I don’t know anything specific. All information is being blocked.

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

The incident at the school was the latest in a series of incidents resulting in high numbers of casualties which prompted the central government to order nationwide safety inspections.

On June 13, twelve people were killed 150 injured in a gas explosion in Hubei Province. Eight suspects have been detained in connection with the gas explosion.

President Xi Jinping ordered cadres across the country to remain “politically vigilant” to prevent major safety hazards as the ruling Communist Party was poised to celebrate its centenary on July 1.

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