Deadly fire brings review

Patients injured in the hotel fire receive treatment at Harbin First Hospital on Saturday. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Harbin hotel had failed four safety inspections

A deadly blaze in Northeast China that killed 20 people and injured 23, including firefighters, has triggered a nationwide inspection of densely populated areas, as the country enters its fire-prone period and tourism rush.

The blaze at the four-story Beilong Hot Spring Hotel in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, started at 4:36 am on Saturday.

More than 100 firefighters with 30 fire trucks extinguished the fire at 7:50 am after evacuating more than 80 people and rescuing 20 others who had been trapped. They found 19 bodies. One of the injured died in the hospital.

The fire started in a kitchen on the second floor and burned an area of around 400 square meters, according to the provincial fire department.

Police have detained the legal representative of the hotel, Zhang Weiping, 46. Officials are also looking into the cause of the fire and are yet to establish the identities of all the victims. Most of the injured are being treated at Harbin First Hospital.

“We launched an emergency response effort and opened a green channel to ensure the timely treatment of the injured after receiving the news,” said Liu Yuehong, deputy director of the hospital.

“Many of the 20 patients at our hospital were affected by gas poisoning. Some had external injuries. All are in stable condition and need further observation and treatment.”

Gao Renwen, 72, was the first to call the police. “When I saw the fire, my first thought was to dial 110,” he said, adding that he heard the leader of his tour group urgently shouting downstairs after the call.