BANGKOK (AP) — A fire broke out in dorms at a boarding school for elementary students in central Henan province, and 13 students died in the blaze, Chinese state media reported Saturday.
All of the dead were third grade students, a teacher told Zonglan news, a state-backed media outlet from Hebei province. One person rescued from the scene was being treated in the hospital, CCTV, China’s state broadcaster said.
Police set up a cordon around the school, a Xinhua news report showed, and the dorm where the fire had happened was charred black even on the outside of the building. The school had metal grilles covering the windows, as is common in buildings in China.
The dormitory room housed approximately 30 students, according to Xinhua. The remaining 16 students were safely evacuated.
The fire started Friday night and was put out just before midnight at Yingcai School in rural Fangcheng district in central Henan. The school’s owner was detained, CCTV reported.
State media reported that public records showed the owner of the school is a man called Li Jizhong. The AP could not reach Li.
Local authorities said they were investigating the cause of the fire. China’s central Emergency Management Ministry dispatched a team to the scene to do an investigation as well.
Fire safety remains a concern across the country. Last April, a fire in a hospital in Beijing killed 29 people. Patients trapped in the multistory building apparently tied bedsheets into makeshift ropes and escaped by climbing out windows, as seen in videos circulating on social media.
The Henan boarding school caters primarily to students in the elementary grades, though it has an attached kindergarten, according to the school’s WeChat page. Many of the boarding students come from rural areas, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
The facility is in Dushu township and is one of the school’s two branches.