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13 students killed as fire erupts in a school dormitory in China’s Henan province

A fire in a school dormitory in central China’s Henan province has killed 13 pupils, according to Chinese state media.

The blaze began in the Yingcai School in the rural Fangcheng district in central Henan at around 11pm on Friday and was put out just before midnight after 38 minutes, according to China‘s state broadcaster CCTV.

The owner and the manager of the privately-run school were detained and an investigation was launched into the deadly fire.

All of the victims were about nine years old, a teacher told Zonglan News, a state-backed media outlet from Hebei province.

One person was found injured and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

No additional information regarding the identities of the deceased or the cause of the fire has been confirmed by authorities.

A business owner near the school told Beijing Youth Daily: “The flames were intense, and the fire and smoke could be seen and smelled from a distance. The cries for help from the students could be heard, and fire engines and ambulances were quickly on the scene.”

The boarding school primarily serves students in the elementary grades, with an attached kindergarten, according to the school’s WeChat page.

Many of the pupils in the boarding school come from rural areas.

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.