BEIJING – Five people have died in an east Beijing fire, underscoring the challenges for the Chinese capital as it struggles to balance building safety with providing housing for its poor.
Local media reported that the residents died before dawn Wednesday after electric bike batteries plugged into a home-rigged charging system caught fire and belched noxious fumes into a three-story apartment building. The accident came a month after an inferno killed 19 in south Beijing, prompting a controversial safety campaign that included the sudden eviction of thousands of migrant workers from unregulated slums.
The evictions, which Beijing officials argue are a precautionary measure, have drawn widespread condemnation on social media from China's middle class. Hundreds of migrant workers held a rare protest on Sunday against what they said were "violent evictions."