Fire kills 38 at industrial wholesaler in central China

BEIJING — A massive fire killed 38 people at a business selling chemicals and other industrial products in central China’s Henan province.

Two other people were injured, the local government of part of Anyang city said in a statement on Tuesday.

The fire was reported around 4:30 p.m. Monday and took firefighters about 3.5 hours to bring under control, the Wenfang district government said.

Video footage on state broadcaster CCTV showed flames and smoke billowing from what appeared to be a two-story building engulfed in fire. During nighttime shots, firefighters examined the scarred skeletal remains of the structure with an extension ladder and lights.

No word was given on the cause of the fire or the number of employees killed, although China has a history of industrial accidents caused by a lack of compliance with safety measures fueled by increasing competition and encouraged by corruption among officials. Poor storage conditions, locked exits and lack of fire-fighting equipment are often cited as direct causes.

Online listings for the company, Kaixinda, indicated that it was a wholesaler specializing in a wide range of industrial products, including what was described as specialty chemicals.

A massive explosion in 2015 at a chemical warehouse in the northern port city of Tianjin killed 173 people, mostly firefighters and police. The chemicals were found to have been falsely recorded and stored, with local authorities complicit in turning a blind eye to the potential threat.

More than 200 rescue workers and 60 firefighters responded to the Henan blaze, according to the statement.

The densely populated and economically vital province has seen a number of deadly incidents which have led to the arrest of local officials.

Five were arrested after a building collapse killed 53 people on the outskirts of the provincial capital Changsha in April.

ABC News

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