The fire service is investigating the cause of a fire in the four-storey Bailong Hot Springs Leisure Hotel, a low-cost spa resort visited mainly by domestic tourists, which broke out just after 4:30 a.m on Saturday 25th August.
The fire tore through a hot springs hotel in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin killing 19 people and causing 23 others to be taken to a hospital, city officials said.
The People’s Daily newspaper cited fire officials as saying the blaze had started in a kitchen on the second floor. Flames swept through the hotel before being extinguished after three hours as more than 30 fire engines and 100 firefighters rushed to the scene.
Firefighters rescued 20 people who were trapped in the hotel and another 80 were evacuated from the building, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
An earlier death toll of 18 rose by one after a victim died in hospital, officials said.
Local authorities said a director of the hotel was in custody for suspected fire safety negligence.
Harbin, in the far northeast of China and home to a large Russian population during the early 20th century, is famous for buildings dating from that era as well as a popular winter snow and ice festival.
Picture of the town of Harbin for illustration purposes.