A fire that erupted in the office of a coal company in northern China has killed 26 people, state media said on Thursday, raising the death toll for the latest in a series of deadly accidents in the coal industry.
President Xi Jinping, on a trip to the United States, urged the authorities to ensure more safety measures are put in place to avoid such incidents, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
At least 38 people were injured in the blaze, which broke out at 6:50 a.m. (2250 GMT Wednesday) at the four-storey Yongju Coal Industry Joint Building in the country’s top coal-producing hub of Shanxi. Calls to the company were not answered.
State broadcaster CCTV initially reported that the fire had killed 11 people and injured at least 51.
All mining firms in Lishi district, where the accident occurred, were asked to suspend production, state media reported, citing local emergency management bureau.
Police have detained several people for questioning, CCTV said, adding that the cause of the blaze was being investigated.
China’s State Council has dispatched a team to the scene to guide the rescue and emergency response work, CCTV said.
China’s coal producers are under scrutiny for a series of accidents in mines in recent months, which has weighed on production as mines stop work for safety inspections.
In April, 29 people were killed as a fire ripped through a hospital in Beijing, leading to criticism of local authorities on social media sites.
(By Colleen Howe, Ella Cao and Andrew Hayley; Editing by Miral Fahmy and Muralikumar Anantharaman)