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– Aljazeera

A fire tore through a martial arts training centre in China on Friday killing 18 people with most of the victims children who were staying there.

The blaze broke out at 3am (19:00 GMT Thursday) and was later extinguished, the government of Zhecheng county, in Henan province, said on its website.

It was unclear what caused the fire, which also injured 16 people, four of whom were in serious condition, the county government said.

Police detained the person in charge of the centre. It did not identify the person or the training facility.

Most of the casualties were students aged between seven and 16 staying on the centre’s second floor, the Beijing Youth Daily said in a report, though the story was later deleted from the newspaper’s website.

In one China’s most horrific fires, 309 people were killed at a nightclub in the city of Luoyang, also in Henan, on Christmas Day in 2000. Most victims suffocated in the smoke-filled dance hall, which had only two emergency exits, and no sprinklers or smoke alarms.

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