china building fire kills at least 39

The local government said at least nine people were injured in the blaze, at a site that housed an internet cafe and an educational center, according to state media.

A fire in a commercial building in southeastern China killed at least 39 people on Wednesday and left one person in critical condition, according to the local authorities.

The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. local time in Xinyu, a city in Jiangxi Province, in the basement of a building that housed an internet cafe on the ground floor and an educational center upstairs, according to Chinese state media and a local government announcement.

A video posted on social media by the Communist Party-affiliated outlet Beijing News showed thick black smoke billowing out of windows.

Other videos posted by social media users on Wednesday, of what appeared to be the same building, showed people jumping from upper floors to a mattress on the ground outside, and a boy climbing down a ladder, wearing a backpack. The videos could not immediately be verified.

Nine people were injured in the fire, with eight in stable condition after the rescue work ended at 8:50 p.m., according to a statement by the local government.

A man who answered the phone at Xinyu’s fire department said the cause of the fire was under investigation but declined to answer further questions.

Reached by phone, the owner of a restaurant across the street from the building where the fire broke out said that she had delivered food to the basement earlier this week. While there, she saw four or five workers there working on what appeared to be renovations, seemingly including welding, she said, declining to give her name.

The complex where the fire broke out, called Jialeyuan, consists largely of residences on top of businesses, and is home to about 300 people, according to The Paper, another party-affiliated news outlet. It is an older complex, with cars parked haphazardly, the outlet said, citing local officials’ reports; the local government had renovated it in October to “improve its appearance.”

In response to the fire, Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, noted that the blaze was “yet another major production safety accident that has happened recently,” and ordered officials to “overcome a mentality of slackness and pushing one’s luck,” state media said.

On Friday, a fire at a kindergarten and elementary school dorm in central China’s Henan Province killed 13 people. While the official state broadcaster did not identify the victims of that fire, some state-affiliated news media said that they had been in the same third-grade class.

A fire at a mall in Xinyu also killed two people in late December.

Research was contributed by Joy Dong, Li You, Chris Buckley and Siyi Zhao.

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