21 dead in a hospital fire in Beijing, and others escape from windows

Chinese state media reported that a fire killed at least 21 people in a hospital in Beijing on Tuesday and forced dozens of people to evacuate.

As clouds of black smoke billowed into the sky, people trapped in the multi-storey building appeared to have tied bed sheets into makeshift ropes and escaped by climbing windows, as seen in videos circulating on social media. Others resorted to sitting on the air conditioning units right outside.

Emergency teams have since put out the fire, which broke out in the eastern wing of the inpatient ward of Beijing Changfeng Hospital, state media including CGTN reported, and at least 71 patients have been rescued. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Most of the hospital building appeared to be without power late Tuesday, with only a few windows lit by the floodlights of workers inside. The building’s exterior was blackened and charred in places, and police cars could be seen parked at the north entrance.

There was no official word by early Wednesday on how many patients had died or how many people might have been infected. A phone call to the hospital seeking comment was not answered Tuesday.

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