A fire broke out in a martial arts training center in China’s Henan Province on June 25, resulting in 18 deaths and 16 injuries of mostly children. The cause of the fire is still unknown. Major media outlets on the mainland appear to have censored the story ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) anniversary celebration on July 1. News reports of this incident are no longer accessible on the Beijing Youth Daily and Henan Daily.
According to a report by China’s Xinhua Net, the fire department rescued a total of 34 people, 18 of whom died, with four severely injured, and 12 with minor injuries. The 18 dead were students of the martial arts center, most of them between 7 and 16 years old.
According to the Zhecheng County Authority, the martial arts center was called the Zhenxing International Fight Club. The business was registered on Aug. 30, 2017, as a martial arts training facility. However, according to the county’s fire department, the martial arts hall was self-built, was not up to code, and had not passed certification as a training facility.
One father expressed relief that his son was among the survivors.
“It’s extremely lucky that my son escaped from the fire, but I don’t know anything specific,” he said in a text-message to Reuters. “All information is being blocked.”
After the incident, the CCP dismissed the Yuanxiang Town party chief and the mayor from their posts. Three suspects, including the founder of the school, have all been taken into custody under criminal coercive measures.
The Chinese authorities have since ordered immediate precautionary measures of fire hazards in critical areas ahead of its anniversary celebration. The surrounding area of Tiananmen Square in Beijing is under semi-martial law. Seven major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have suspended their postal delivery service. Some revealed through unofficial channels that even pigeons in Beijing are grounded.