China Xinjiang: Urumqi rocked by Covid lockdown protests after deadly fire


Videos shared on social media in China have appeared to show fresh protests against Covid restrictions, after an apartment block fire killed 10 people.

People in Urumqi are seen confronting officials, breaking down a barrier and shouting “end the Covid lockdown”.

Infections have hit new highs in China in spite of a tough zero-Covid policy.

Authorities in Urumqi have now promised to phase out restrictions – though deny that these stopped people escaping Thursday’s fire.

Restrictions have been in place in the city – capital of the western Xinjiang region – since early August.

The BBC was told by one resident in the aftermath of the incident that people living in the fire-hit compound had been largely prevented from leaving their homes.

That has been disputed by Chinese state media. However, Urumqi authorities did issue an unusual apology late on Friday – vowing to punish anyone who had deserted their duty.

Footage shared on Friday night showed residents, many of them in face masks, gathering after dark on the city streets.

They were seen chanting, pumping their firsts and arguing with officials. The location was verified by the Reuters news agency.

One demonstrator shouts through a megaphone, and in another clip, a crowd breaks through a barrier policed by city workers wearing protective gear.

Live streams monitored by the BBC on Friday night also appeared to show protesters gathered on the steps of a city government building.