China officials take blame in deadly shelter fire



Yuan Lihai, center, speaks to investigators at the burnt remains of her private shelter for orphans and abandoned children in Lankao in central China’s Henan province on Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. The fire at the private shelter in central China killed at least seven children on Friday, a local official said. said Yuan who owned the home, had for years been a street vendor in Lankao when she became locally known for sheltering abandoned children. Another report said she has taken in more than 100 children over the past two decades. AP

BEIJING — A local Chinese government on Saturday admitted it had tolerated the existence of an illegally run orphanage where six children and one young adult died in a house fire.

The Lankao county government in central China’s Henan province said Yuan Lihai, operator of the shelter, illegally took in and cared for 18 abandoned children and young adults at her home but that the government turned a blind eye to it in consideration of her “kind-hearted acts,” reported, the official website of the party-run People’s Daily.

“There is a direct relationship between today’s situation and the fact that some related government departments failed to enforce supervision and loosened management on purpose,” deputy county governor Wu Changsheng said at a Saturday press conference as quoted by the news report. “They should shoulder responsibility, and that’s a loophole in our work.”

Wu also told reporters that the local government had provided some assistance to Yuan to help her care for the children.

The deaths have spotlighted China’s lack of government-run child services, which have often been left to private citizens with few resources and no legal authority. It is unclear whether Yuan would be punished.

On China’s social media, the public have shown overwhelming sympathy toward Yuan. A Saturday editorial by the official Xinhua News Agency blamed the local government’s inaction and media — who had previously praised Yuan’s actions — for the tragedy.

“The selective blindness of the local government and media reports prior to the tragedy has turned out to be more dangerous than the fire itself,” the editorial read. “And until those with the power to rectify these issues open their eyes, similar tragedies are bound to happen.”

The fire broke out at Yuan’s home Friday, killing one 20-year-old man and six children aged from seven months to about five years old, the local government said in an official statement on its website. said the other 10 children cared by Yuan, a street vendor, were not home at the time of the fire. They are now in government custody.

Wu told reporters that the county would spare no effort to build a welfare center in 2013 to ensure no abandoned child should be left uncared for.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • joerizal

    Buti nga sa inyo mga belekoy.

  • ofwme2807

    China local government turned a blind eye on it due to kind-hearted acts???ano raw mga Komunistang walang diyos naawa dito kelan pa lumambot ang mga puso ng mga tusong com-beho…sabi raw China lacked government-run child services pero naaawa sa knila paano may pambili ng modern armas ang mga commies pondo sa mga kaawa awang pulubing intsik wla pera ng government kinukurakot ng mga Commie leaders wala nmang mgawa mga pobre duon…bawal magreklamo at magsalita laban sa gobyerno…hay buhay sa China alipin..

    • Homer Guo

       ur ideas re china i believe are those taught in school books. if you stay in china u would see that despite these mishaps, the country is moving forward economically. mas dumarami ang umaangat ang buhay. chinese dont care about enjoying democracy if it means going hungry. they care about improving their lives, and yes, they too care because as far as I know they too are human beings. hindi man lahat pero, mas marami ang may pake sa kapwa nila. hindi lang nababalita.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos