Chinese market fire kills seventeen, child detained

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Police detained a nine-year-old after a blaze started in a wholesale market in Huizhou, Guangdong, southern China on Thursday afternoon. Seventeen died.

Huizhou, from file.
Image: User:长夜无风.

According to police the child was playing with matches in a warehouse on the top-floor of the four-storey Yiwu Commodity Mall. Soon the entire floor was engulfed, leading to an eighteen-hour rescue mission involving 270 firefighters with 45 vehicles. Nine market managers have also been detained.

The complex includes restaurants and a cinema. The cinema's bathroom, on the top floor, became a trap for ten of the victims. Firefighter Wan Jie told reporters "Our firemen tried several times to approach the fourth floor where the cinema was located, without success. It was too dark to see anything and the temperature was extremely high. We carried oxygen bottles as we crawled forward."

He described how he and another firefighter almost ran out of oxygen while rescuing one girl. Around 300 people were evacuated. Photos at the scene showed medical personnel, some with stretchers, waiting en masse to treat casualties.

Firefighters came from Shenzhen, Dongguan, and Shanwei to augment local forces. Four, including Wan Jie, were injured. "It was the worst and most dangerous fire I have ever attended," he said. The fire service said the entire building, which passed a safety inspection last month, was at risk of collapse. The fire was extinguished around 8a.m. local time yesterday.

Southern Metropolis News released a list of suspected victims. Among them are a family of four and a fourteen-year-old girl from Hong Kong.


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