A horrific story has emerged from the ashes of a family home in Henan province, where a four-year-old boy has died and his parents have been hospitalized in a serious condition. The cause of the fatal fire has been revealed to be the family’s 17-year-old eldest son, who lit the fire after being chastised by his father for spending too much time at internet gaming bars.
According to Sohu, the fire began at the family’s home at approximately 5:00 a.m. as the parents (in their 40s) and their youngest son slept. Because the house doubled as a small furniture warehouse, large quantities of wood fueled the flames, which spread quickly and prevented escape.
Local fire authorities who rushed to the scene managed to extinguish the fire and rescue the parents, however, their four-year-old son had tragically stopped breathing by the time he was pulled from the blazing house. The parents were immediately taken to hospital and placed in intensive care to be treated for extremely serious injuries. Doctors are pessimistic about their chances of survival, saying they are unlikely to make it past the next two days.
When police were informed by neighbours that there were four members in the family, they went searching for the missing son. Authorities discovered the 17-year-old at a local internet cafe, which neighbours said he often liked to visit. Upon telling the boy of the incident, they were horrified to discover that the fire was not accidental, but was indeed an act of arson when the boy replied: “I know, I started the fire.”
When police demanded to know why he lit his own home on fire, the boy claimed it was retaliation against his father, who had earlier admonished him for spending too much time playing computer games at the internet cafe. The boy explained how he had started the fire in his room before leaving for the nearby gaming bar, and never actually intended to hurt his family.
Neighbours told reporters that the boy had dropped out of school after finishing primary school and didn’t like to do anything other than play online computer games. The boy is currently in criminal detention.
This is not the first tragic death of a young child this week in China, after a seven-year-old Henan boy who fell down an exposed manhole was found drowned in a sewer some days later.
Gaming addiction and related violence has also become a worrying trend in China. Previously, a Sichuan mother and son drowned after an argument over League of Legends.
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By Liam Bourke