SHIJIAZHUANG -- Eleven people died when a fire swept through a karaoke hall in north China's Hebei Province, early on Wednesday.
The blaze broke out in Chengde County at about 4:30 am in the Blue Sky foot massage parlor on the ground floor of a two-storey building known as Gedu Karaoke Hall, according to the local government.
The parlor was not open for business at the time but the owner and his staff were sleeping in the residential quarters on the second floor.
The male owner and 10 masseuses were killed. Two others were rescued.
County official Lu Wenlong said fire-fighters found some of the bodies lying near their beds, indicating they had attempted to escape.
Police were questioning the two people rescued and other Gedu Karaoke staff.
A local pedlar alerted police at 4:47 am after he saw smoke pouring out from all sides of the building. The fire was extinguished at about 5:10 am.
Photos posted on the Internet showed the entrance of the building scorched and the windows of the first floor smashed.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation. The local Public Security Bureau had not released any further details.
Gao Shengxian, director of the provincial works safety watchdog, and experts from the Ministry of Public Security have arrived at the county to investigate.
The local government held an emergency conference on Wednesday afternoon in an effort to launch a large-scale work safety inspection.