Christmas Day Fire in China Kills 309

ByABC News

B E I J I N G, Dec. 25, 2000 -- A Christmas Day fire killed atleast 309 people, many of them revelers at a dance hall, inthe central Chinese city of Luoyang, Xinhua news agency andlocal sources said today.

Dozens of injured were in hospital, Xinhua said withoutgiving a figure.

The blaze broke out in a commercial building at 9.35 p.m., trapping more than 200 Christmas party-goers packed into a fourth-floor dance hall.

Construction workers renovating the second and third floorswere also trapped. Witnesses said six or seven people leaptfrom windows on to safety mats set out by fire fighters.

The fire was finally extinguished late Monday night, Xinhua said. City and Henan provincial leaders were at the scene.

No Reason Cited for Fire

The report gave no cause for the fire.

A local reporter contacted by Reuters said the building hadsix or seven stories filled with small shops selling clothingand other products.

The reporter said the fire started in the basement.

An official at the city’s Fourth People’s Hospital, wheremany of the injured were taken, said most of victims had diedfrom smoke inhalation.

It was one of the deadliest fires of its kind in China overthe past decade.

In December 1994, 323 people, most of them children, werekilled in a concert hall fire in the oil town of Karamay in thewestern region of Xinjiang.

A month earlier, 233 people were killed in a dance hallfire in the northeastern province of Liaoning, many of themcrushed to death or asphyxiated inside emergency exits thatwere chained shut.

China’s worst such fire was in 1977, when 694 people died— 597 of them children — in Xinjiang.

In March 2000, a fire at a suspected pornographic movietheater killed 74 in Henan province.

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