updated 8/26/2011 9:48:01 AM ET 2011-08-26T13:48:01

A man in China died on the operating table after his doctors fled from a fire that broke out in the next room, a hospital official said Friday.

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The 50-year-old man died after being left unattended for 30 minutes while undergoing surgery to amputate his leg Wednesday night at the Shanghai No. 3 People's Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Hu Yuan.

A nurse at first tried to douse the blaze, caused by a disinfecting machine that caught fire. When that failed, the staff attending the patient reported the fire and carried on with the operation.

"As they were finishing up, the power went out and then they all left," Hu said.

Firefighters prevented the doctors from returning to the operating room, and by the time they reached the man in the operating room he was dead, apparently of smoke inhalation.

Hu said the doctors and nurses were kept at the hospital as police investigated but were allowed to leave Friday.

"Our hospital gave them some time off. We did wrong and we are responsible for the whole accident," Hu said.

The hospital was discussing compensation for the family, but Hu would not say how much it might pay.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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