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In Xinjiang, Northwest China, An Apartment Fire Claimed 10 Lives

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In Xinjiang, Northwest China, An Apartment Fire Claimed 10 Lives

(CTN NEWS) – Xinjiang, Northwest China – Amid strict lockdowns that have kept many locals in their homes for more than three months, authorities reported Friday that a fire in an apartment building in northwest China’s Xinjiang region killed 10 people and injured nine.

A fire broke out on Thursday night in Urumqi, the regional capital, where nighttime temperatures have fallen below freezing.

According to several accounts in the state media, flames rose from the 15th level to the 17th floor, with smoke rising as high as the 21st floor. It took around 3 hours to put the fire out.

The reports stated that the toxic vapours that caused the deaths and injuries were inhaled and that everyone transported to the hospital was expected to live.

In Xinjiang, Northwest China, An Apartment Fire Claimed 10 Lives

According to an initial assessment, the fire appeared to have been started by a power strip in a bedroom of one of the 15th-floor units.

An Uyghur living in exile in Switzerland claimed he found out his aunt and four of her kids died in a fire during a call with a neighbour.

Abdulhafz Muhammed Emin sobbed during a phone interview, “She was a lovely woman, constantly thinking of her children and how to care for and educate them correctly.” “My heart is so deeply broken that I can’t stand it.”

China’s zero-COVID policy has placed Xinjiang under strict lockdowns for more than three months to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

In the last few weeks, the nation has struggled with a wave of cases that have resulted in rolling lockdowns and stringent travel restrictions that have affected hundreds of millions of people.

Social media videos showing a distant fire truck’s water arc missing the fire infuriated many users, prompting a flood of negative comments.

Some said that pandemic control barricades or cars left abandoned after their owners were placed in quarantine had blocked fire engines, although it was unclear why the truck was so far away.

In Xinjiang, Northwest China, An Apartment Fire Claimed 10 Lives

Many people in Xinjiang are dissatisfied with China’s strict COVID-19 rules. Some people complained of hunger in September amidst sporadic food supplies.

Xinjiang, according to Muhammed Emin, “is an open-air prison.” “Their lives are not important to the Chinese regime.”

At a press conference held late on Saturday, Urumqi Mayor Memtimin Qadir expressed regret to the city’s citizens and announced the creation of a government committee to look into the fire.

Authorities in Urumqi stated during the press conference that since the neighbourhood was classed as a “low COVID-19 risk area,” inhabitants were allowed to walk downstairs “for activities” and that fire escape doors were not closed.

“Some residents were unable to rescue themselves, so they did not escape in time,” said Li Wensheng, head of the Urumqi City Fire Rescue Department.

Muhammed Emin contradicts that assertion, citing posts on social media claiming that many apartment dwellers were confined to their residences due to COVID-19 rules.

According to another post, tenants were not allowed to enter and exit the building freely and were only allowed downstairs for a few hours per day.

The Associated Press could not independently verify the assertions made in the social media posts.

There hasn’t been a significant recent outbreak in Urumqi; only 977 cases—almost all asymptomatic—were reported on Friday.

Local officials are inclined toward more drastic measures to prevent breakouts inside their jurisdictions, as in many regions of China, out of concern for their employment.

Days prior, a fire at an industrial trading company in central China started by welding sparks igniting cotton cloth that claimed the lives of 38 individuals.

The Anyang fire on Monday resulted in the detention of four persons, and local officials have ordered extensive safety inspections to find any hidden hazards.

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