Hotel Fire Kills 10, Injures 35 in China

BEIJING -- A fire at a hotel in northeastern China killed 10 people and injured 35 others Sunday, while lightning sparked several forest fires in another part of the country, a state news agency said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the fire at a hotel in Tonghua city in Jilin province early Sunday was put out after half an hour. The report did not mention what caused the blaze.

A staffer at the Tonghua city government's office for emergencies confirmed the number of casualties but said he had no other details. He refused to give his name, as is common with Chinese officials.

The injured were sent to a hospital for treatment and firefighters were combing the site, Xinhua said.

Building fires are common in China because of lax safety codes and unsafe construction work. In November, 58 people were killed in a Shanghai apartment fire that was blamed on welders ignoring safety precautions. Last week, an illegal garment shop in southern Beijing caught fire, killing 17 people.

Also Sunday, thousands of firefighters in northern Shanxi province were trying to extinguish more than 10 fires in a forest bordering the cities of Jingzhong and Yangquan, Xinhua said. It said the blazes were sparked by lightning.

A staffer surnamed Li at the Shanxi provincial forest fire prevention headquarters said the fires were "under control" but not extinguished, and that no casualties had been reported.