Over 90 perish in Chinese fires

More than 90 people have been killed and dozens injured when two separate fires in China engulfed a five-storey deparment store and a temple.

    Firefighters tackle a fire at a five-storey department store

    In the earlier fire, flames quickly swept through the Zhongbai department store in northeast China's Jilin province on Sunday morning, trapping many shoppers, killing 53 people and injuring about 70.

    Only hours later at least 39 pilgrims died and four were injured when a temple in eastern Zhejiang province's Haining city caught fire around 2:15pm (06:15 GMT), the Xinhua news agency said.

    The causes of the fires are unknown.

    "The fire began on the first floor," said Fang Wangyan, spokesman for the Jilin city fire department.

    "A lot of people on the lower floors got out, but many others tried to escape by going upstairs where the smoke became very thick."

    Xinhua later said 53 people had died and another 68 were being treated in three separate hospitals.

    Battling the blaze

    It added that 36 people had been summoned for questioning over the fire, which may have started in a temporary storehouse at the back of the building.

    A victim is carried by rescuers
    out of the burning store in Jilin

    About 60 fire engines and more than 260 firemen fought the blaze for three hours before the inferno was put out, Fang said.

    Ambulances from throughout the city were brought in for rescue operations, while the wounded were sent to a number of city hospitals.
     
    Many of the wounded were injured after jumping from the burning building, while others received serious burns and inhalation injuries, a nurse at the city's Number Three Hospital said.

    "Our hospital was the closest to the fire, so a lot of the wounded were sent here," said the nurse.

    SOURCE: AFP


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