7 dead in N China orphanage fire

Six children and one adult died Friday morning in a fire that engulfed an unregistered orphan shelter in Lankao county in central China’s Henan Province, local government sources said.
Eight people, including a 20 year old and seven children, were inside the two-room private house when the fire broke out around 8:30 a.m., a spokesman with the county government said.

All eight were orphans or abandoned children. Four of them died at the scene, while another three lost their lives on the way to a local hospital, the spokesman said.

One child is receiving treatment at the hospital.

The house is an unregistered private orphanage used by local woman Yuan Lihai, 48, to shelter orphans and abandoned children.

Yuan hired workers to take care of 34 “adopted” orphans and abandoned children, 21 male and 13 female, in two separate private houses in the county. Most of the “adopted” are either disabled or have illnesses.

However, Yuan’s “adoptions” were unlawful, and the civil affair authorities of Lankao county helped a welfare center in Kaifeng City to take five children from her in Sept. 2011.

The fire burned an area of about 40 square meters. An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.

Xinhua