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At least 15 killed and 44 injured in a fire at a residential building in eastern China

Aerial view of the aftermath of the fire at a residential building in Nanjing city, Jiangsu province on 23 February 2024 (AFP via Getty)
Aerial view of the aftermath of the fire at a residential building in Nanjing city, Jiangsu province on 23 February 2024 (AFP via Getty)

At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when a fire broke out at an apartment building in Nanjing city in China, according to local authorities.

The blaze appears to have started on the first floor of the building, where electric bikes were kept, on Friday morning.

It was extinguished by 6am, with the rescue operation being wrapped up by 2pm. At least 44 people were sent to hospital for treatment, of whom one person was in a critical condition. More than 500 affected residents were moved to hotels, reported the South China Morning Post.

Residents were woken up by the sound of an explosion at around 4.30am, with fire surging upwards. Footage showed black smoke emanating from the building while a ball of flame spread to its exterior.

Authorities began receiving calls for help at around 4.39am. At least 25 fire trucks were dispatched to the site to tackle the blaze, according to the emergency services.

Nanjing city’s mayor, Chen Zhichang, expressed his condolences to the victims, adding that the authorities were “deeply saddened” by the incident, reported CNN.

“We will ... give the victims and society an answer,” he said, adding that there an investigation was under way.

The blaze appears to have started on the first floor of the building, where electric bikes were kept (AFP via Getty)
The blaze appears to have started on the first floor of the building, where electric bikes were kept (AFP via Getty)

There have been several notable fires in China over the past year, including one in a school dormitory that killed 13 students in central China’s Henan province. Seven staff members were taken into police custody following that incident.

In January, at least 39 people were killed and nine injured in a fire at a shop in Jiangxi province.

Following these incidents, China’s president, Xi Jinping, demanded that all efforts be made to prevent accidents and ensure people’s safety, according to Xinhua News.

Last April, a fire in a hospital in Beijing killed 29 people. Patients trapped in the multistorey building apparently tied bedsheets into makeshift ropes and escaped by climbing out of windows, according to video footage circulating on social media.