Earlier this morning, a huge fire tore through a hot springs hotel in China, killing 19 people and causing 23 others to be taken to hospital.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze at the four-story Bailong Hot Springs Leisure Hotel, an inexpensive spa resort visited mainly by domestic tourists, which broke out just after 4:30 a.m. (2030 GMT Friday).
The People’s Daily newspaper cited fire officials as saying the blaze started in a kitchen on the second floor. Flames swept through an area of about 400 square meters (4,300 square feet) before being extinguished after three hours, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Footage showed rescue workers picking through the charred building.
Casualties treated in hospital were in the 40s to 70s age range, the newspaper said, citing the Harbin First Hospital. Further details about those who were killed were not immediately available.
An earlier death toll of 18 rose by one after a victim died in hospital, officials said. China has a patchy record for building safety regulations, and the country’s Ministry of Emergency Management said it would launch nationwide fire safety inspections in buildings such as hotels, sauna, hospitals, schools and shopping malls, CCTV reported on Saturday