Changfeng Hospital blaze: shocking footage of event finally emerges following social media censorship
Vision has emerged capturing the horrific scenes that unfolded at a Beijing hospital after it caught on fire, killing 21 people.
The vision reveals the desperate measures those inside the building were forced to take to survive.
As smoke consumed the air, patients were seen grasping windows while one woman clung to sheets transformed into a makeshift rope in an attempt to escape the burning building.
Video deleted from Chinese social media apps shows what appears to be a blue tin roof or shade lay at the bottom of a 3m drop, with the woman falling onto it before scrambling to meet two other survivors.
A man is also captured running bewilderedly on the roof of a neighbouring building, before approaching the trio who understandably looked to be in shock.
Meanwhile, airconditioning units fixed to the wall were the only barriers between life and death for half a dozen people, with those several stories praying it would support their weight.
One patient looked as if they were using the unit‘s cable to scale down the building as a ladder emerged two stories below them.
It’s unclear what happened next with the camera returning to the sight of the three patients who had used bed sheets for their grand escape.
Two of the survivors were unable to walk as a large cloud of grey smoke surrounded them, with the video ending seconds after.
The footage, posted to social media, is among several videos filmed by witnesses Beijing authorities never wanted the world to see when one of the city’s main hospitals became engulfed in flames on Tuesday.
It’s understood the fire, which killed at least 29 patients, consumed Changfeng Hospital’s inpatient department – located 11km from Tiananmen Square.
A dozen people were arrested by authorities following the incident.
Public outrage as event leads to social media blackout
Initial media reports of the event were limited, with the city’s major papers not publishing any articles about the event until Tuesday evening once the blaze was extinguished, Bloomberg reports.
As for the articles that were published, only a few sentences about the incident were written explaining the time firefighters discovered the blaze and how it took them just over half an hour to put it out.
The papers subtly claimed the initial death toll was 21 people, with an additional 71 patients said to have been evacuated from the building before being transferred to other medical facilities.
Posts to social media site Freeweibo.com were also censored in the hours following the blaze with viewers trying to observe the footage greeted by the message “according to the relevant laws, regulations and policies, the page is not found”.
The attempt to cover the dire scenes enraged the public as those who saw the footage prior to its censorship tried to come to terms with how such a catastrophic event could occur at a hospital.
“Such a big event, so quiet,” one person posted to Freeweibo in relation to the lack of news surrounding the event.
“The real news is not published,” said another.
A third person commented on the possible charges the hospital would face, before honouring those who had tragically lost their lives in the incident.
“I have never heard of this hospital before but whether it is private or public, it does not affect the characterisation of the incident,” the comment translated to English read.
Within 90 minutes of the comments being published, the entire post was deleted by the platform’s regulators.
Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of conservative popular Chinese tabloid Global Times, was also caught up in the social media blackout, according to Bloomberg.
Mr Hu called for authorities to “trust the public” in regards to information posted about the incident and condemned the removal of posts, before his comment was later taken down.
A second post highlighting Mr Hu’s reaction to the blaze remained online, as the former editor appealed for more information to be supplied to the public.
Restrictions on the publication of information relating to the fiery incident are said to have since eased, with footage making its way onto Twitter and TikTok.
The traumatic event comes amid the aftermath of China’s deadly Covid crisis which saw hospitals “completely overwhelmed” with patients testing positive to the illness as bodies reportedly piled up outside morgues.
The country’s aggressive zero-Covid-19 strategy which saw millions of residents subjected to brutal lockdown restrictions, ended in December last year.
Since the pandemic was identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, Beijing has recorded 40,774 confirmed cases of the virus.
Originally published as Footage of catastrophic Beijing hospital fire emerges following social media censorship