At least 17 people were killed in a restaurant fire in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province, on Wednesday, state CCTV reported.
According to reports, three more people were injured in a blaze that broke out in a small dining room at 12:40 p.m., and all of the injured were taken to hospital.
Fire and rescue services reported that the cause of the fire was initially thought to be a gas explosion.
Changchun is known as China’s “Auto City” and is an important industrial hub with a particular focus on the automotive sector.
Fatalities continue to be common in China due to poor design and construction, poor safety standards, and poor inspection and enforcement.
The Chinese government routinely hides or falsifies information, making it difficult to ascertain the true casualty figures at such events.
In April, 53 people were reportedly killed when an illegally constructed apartment building and restaurant collapsed in Changsha.
Last July, three people were reported missing and 11 injured in a gas explosion after buildings partially collapsed in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin.
This reflects the deterioration of infrastructure and the violation of safety and environmental regulations after more than 30 years of economic growth.
Reuters and AP contributed to this report