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Fire ravages Hunan market, injures 69
By Wu Chong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-22 09:55

Sixty-nine people were injured yesterday in a fire that swept through a large market area and damaged a hotel in Changde, Central China's Hunan Province.

"No reports of death so far," said Zhang Zhiping, a senior official with the local government.

Firefighters use water cannon to extinguish fire at a marketplace in Changde, Hunan Province December 21, 2004. 69 people were injured in the fire. [newsphoto]
Witnesses said the fire broke out in a small shop in the Qiaonan Market at about 7 am and soon spread northwest to a nearby hotel. Flames continued through the evening, burning an area of 20,000 square metres, said Zhang.

The cause of the fire remains unclear.

The 69 injured were mostly shop owners but included 16 firefighters, according to local authorities.

Many were hospitalized, and those with lesser injuries have returned home.

Some guests in the neighbouring hotel were also injured, said Zhang.

Built in the 1990s, the multi-storyed Qiaonan Market includes more than 100 small shops.

It deals with both wholesale and retail businesses, with an annual sales volume reaching tens of millions of yuan.

The inflammable goods it sells, such as textiles, clothes, electronic products and headgear, have increased the difficulty of fire safety. Strong winds yesterday also prevented the fire from being quickly doused.

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