A fire broke out at a martial arts gym in China’s Henan province early Friday morning (June 25), killing 18 people and injuring 16 others, including four seriously, at a sensitive time when the Communist Party’s centennial celebration is approaching. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
According to several Chinese and foreign media reports, a fire broke out at 3 a.m. Friday at a martial arts gym located on North Street in Yuanxiang Town, Zhecheng County, Shangqiu City, Henan Province, and although the fire was quickly controlled and extinguished, it has resulted in 18 deaths and 16 injuries. The head of the martial arts gym has been taken under police control.
According to Henan Daily, the CPC Henan Provincial Party Committee Secretary Lou Yangsheng, as well as the main provincial, municipal and county leaders were quickly rushed to the scene of the fire after the incident, the provincial and municipal emergency management departments were also the first time to start the plan, emergency rescue of injured people. Lou yangsheng and made instructions, pointed out that the Shangqiu city Zhecheng County, a group of dead and injured fire accident, heavy casualties, a profound lesson. He instructed in the full treatment of injured people to do a good job in the aftermath of the work, but also asked the province’s cities and counties to learn from the lessons, learn from the past, to carry out a carpet survey to eliminate potential safety hazards.
Less than two weeks ago, a massive gas explosion occurred at the Yanhu Community Market in Shiyan City, Hubei Province on June 13, directly causing 25 deaths, 37 serious injuries and 101 minor injuries.
A chemical gas leak occurred in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province on June 12, resulting in a tragic 8 deaths and 3 injuries.
Before that, on June 4, a mining disaster occurred in Hebi City, Henan Province, resulting in 8 deaths.
Since July 1 is the Communist Party’s centennial celebration, the Chinese government is trying to create a scene of celebration and prosperity throughout the country. But a spate of major accidents has put a damper on the festive and peaceful atmosphere.
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, issued a directive on June 13 after a major gas explosion in Shiyan, Hubei Province, in which he called for a comprehensive investigation of safety hazards and the maintenance of social stability to “create a good atmosphere for the centennial of the Party” due to recent production safety accidents and school safety incidents in many parts of China.
However, just over ten days after Xi’s instructions, and only six days before the massive party celebration on July 1, another deadly fire broke out in Henan province.
According to Guangming.com, the martial arts gym that caught fire was a well-known local revitalized fight club, and the students inside often participated in local TV shows. The martial arts school has been operating for many years and has no previous record of safety accidents. Every year, the martial arts school holds a martial arts summer camp in the summer and winter. Since the camp is closed, the children are required to stay in the dormitory provided by the martial arts school.
The Beijing Youth Daily quoted a Yuanxiang town government employee as saying that most of those killed or injured in the fire were boarding students at the martial arts school, aged between 7 and 16. At the time of the incident, there were reportedly about 34 students in the martial arts gym, most of whom lived on the second floor of the gym.
Reuters spoke by phone with the father of one of the injured students. The parent, surnamed Zheng, said, “My child is 9 years old, but I have no idea of his current condition, and we can’t visit him.” The parent also said, “At the revitalized martial arts school, the children practice martial arts during the day and sleep in the martial arts school at night. I don’t know how the fire happened”.
Another parent, in an interview with Reuters, acted very relaxed because his son was among the survivors.
The 39-year-old parent, surnamed Xu, said, “My son was very lucky that he escaped from the fire. But I don’t know anything about the details”. The parent also added that “all information is blocked.”
In reporting on the fire, Reuters also highlighted that fires are not uncommon in China, partly due to inadequate safety measures and questionable building quality. One of China’s most horrific fires occurred on Christmas Day in 2000, when a nightclub in Luoyang, also in Henan province, caught fire and killed 309 people.