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Seven die in children's home fire in China’s Henan

A fire at a home for orphans and abandoned children in China has killed at least seven youngsters, possibly having injured many more. The shelter was being run out of the home of a street vendor.

Flames broke out at 8 a.m local time on Friday and swept through the home in Lankao, Henan province for some two hours before they were brought under control, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Four children died at the scene, with three more dying of their injuries later, police said. However, the exact number of dead and injured remained unclear.

The official China.org.cn website cited police on the scene saying that many children had been hurt, without specifying further. The state broadcaster, China Central Television, said that 39 children had been living at the home in 2011.

"The cause of the fire is still under investigation," a local government spokesman added. The ages of the children were also unknown.

The shelter was run by a street vendor, Yuan Lihai, who was well-known locally for the help she had given to children without family members to take care of them. Since 1987, Yuan is believed to have cared for some 100 children, according to the state broadcaster.

It is thought Yuan could afford to look after so many youngsters because she sold items outside of the county hospital. It was yet to be established if the home was licensed by local authorities.

rc/pfd (AFP, AP, dpa)