Staff at Chinese care home arrested after deadly fire kills 38 elderly people

Authorities say some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition

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12 care home workers have been arrested in central China after a fire killed 38 people at a care home for the elderly.

The Xinhua News Agency said the legal representative of the Kangleyuan Rest Home was one of several arrested, while police were searching for three more employees.

The fire broke out on Monday evening after the elderly residents had finished their dinner and gone to bed. The fire tore through the entire building and left a scene of charred ruins and utter devastation.

According to reports, many of the dead were those housed in a dormitory reserved for the infirm, who could not move without help. With firefighters taking a while to bring the blaze under control, many of the 38 perished individuals were burned beyond reocgnition.

The care home, located in Pingdingshan in Henan province, was home to 51 people, and alongside the dead were six injured with two in serious condition.

The aftermath of the fire led some to question the materials used in the building of the care home, and with China dealing with a rapidly ageing population and a limited social security framework, there is increased pressure to take care of the elderly in a safe manner.

The Xinhua News Agency quoted one survivor, 78-year-old Guo Xin: "I was in my bed at the time. Suddenly, I saw a worker run out of a room on fire and he shouted 'Run! Run!' to me, so I dashed out."

Another resident, Chen Runsheng, 80, said that the Kangleyuan Rest Home did not have enough care workers in the building.

The fire and subsequent arrests is not new in China: in 2013, an upset resident set fire to a home for the elderly in Heilongjiang, killing himself and 10 others.