A section of the Beijing 301 Military Hospital, where top Chinese Communist Party leaders go for treatment, caught fire on Aug. 1, according to photographs, videos, and accounts online. The cause was not immediately clear.
Internet commentators were quick to point out the date the fire occurred: the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Party’s military force. It was founded on Aug. 1, 1927, and the anniversary is celebrated every year.
The fire broke in the area of the hospital that houses family members of hospital staff.
A witness in Haidian district, Beijing, posted a message at 11:30 a.m. on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like website: “Fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars are rushing everywhere.”
Another witness uploaded a video of the blazing buildings that afternoon, showing the flames burning despite heavy rain, and clouds of dark smoke floating high in the sky.
The witness commented: “No. 3 yard at Taiping road, Haidian district, Beijing erupted in flames at about 11 a.m.; death toll unknown, about 12 houses burnt. According to sources, the fire was possibly caused by a gas tank exploding when someone was cooking. Now the fire is in control. As the roof was made of wood, the flames rapidly extended to houses on both sides, with over a dozen houses affected.”
A third witness at Rongfeng Hotel, which is close to the site, told The Epoch Times that the fire drew numerous onlookers.
Videos of the fire that were posted on Weibo have been removed, but are still being circulated online.
Searches for the news have been blocked in China. When trying to search “301 Military Hospital,” Weibo says: “According to relevant rules and policies, partial results of this search are unavailable.”
The 301 Military Hospital is the medical facility where many high-ranking members of the CCP seek treatment. In April 2003 a senior military surgeon at the complex, Jiang Yanyong, leaked news about the cover-up of the Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus at the hospital: authorities had announced only 12 SARS cases in Beijing, but Jiang said there were at least 100 in the 301 Military Hospital and half a dozen deaths.
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