Staff have reportedly evacuated 71 patients after a fire broke out in an inpatient ward at Beijing Changfeng Hospital.
A Beijing hospital was forced to evacuate dozens of patients after a fire killed 21 people.
Emergency response teams were first alerted to the fire at Beijing Changfeng Hospital in the capital’s Fengtai district at 1pm (05:00 GMT) on Tuesday.
The fire was extinguished after about half an hour, and rescue operations continued for another two hours, the Beijing Daily reported.
Other state media, including CGTN, reported that the fire broke out in the private hospital’s inpatient unit and 71 patients were evacuated.
According to the Beijing Daily, the city’s top officials visited the hospital shortly after the fire, with Beijing Party Secretary Yin Li pledging to “quickly find out the cause of the accident and hold the responsible people accountable.” Officials were expected to hold a press conference at 12 noon (04:00 GMT) on Wednesday.
Photographs from the scene showed investigators inside charred hospital rooms and traces of soot on the building’s white-tiled facade.
Dozens of onlookers gathered outside the entrance to the hospital on Wednesday, the AFP news agency said, where a large number of police officers were stationed, discouraging people from taking photographs.
An investigation has been initiated
Social media users posted videos of people sitting in outdoor air conditioning units in the afternoon, while others appeared to have tied bedsheets to makeshift ropes to escape from windows.
The death was confirmed after the victims were rushed to another unidentified hospital for emergency treatment, the report said.
Many family members have lost contact with the patients, and the missing are mostly elderly people with mobility problems, China Youth Daily said in a separate report on Wednesday.
A police officer at the scene told AFP that the city would “probably make appropriate arrangements” to care for the victims’ relatives.
Changfeng Hospital is in the west of Beijing, about 25 minutes by car from the central Tiananmen Square.
Deadly fires are common in China due to lax safety standards and lax enforcement.
An apartment fire in northwestern Xinjiang in November killed 10 people, with Covid-19 lockdowns being blamed for hampering rescue efforts. Protests sparked by the deaths spread across the country and led to the end of China’s zero-covid strategy.