Fire in south China kills 18, injures 5; could be arson

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 24, 2018

Police suspect arson and are investigating, they said, identifying as a suspect a 32-year-old man surnamed Liu.

BEIJING-A fire that tore through a karaoke bar in southern China in the early hours of Tuesday killed 18 people, the police said, adding that arson was probably the cause.

Reuters could not immediately reach police in Qingyuan by telephone to seek further comment.The man had blocked the sole entrance of the KTV lounge with a motorbike before setting it ablaze, state broadcaster CCTV said in a Weibo post on social media.

The blaze took place after midnight in a three-storey building in Qingyuan City, Guangdong province, and was put out shortly.

The five injured people are receiving treatment in a hospital, state TV said.

The deadly fire is likely to prompt another round of calls from the Chinese government to tighten up safety, especially in the crowded fringes of cities and industrial zones where fires often break out. The parlour had only one passage for entering and exiting, the report said.

Beijing's municipal government launched a 40-day "special operation" targeting fire code and building safety violations after an apartment fire in the Chinese capital last November killed 19 people, nearly all of them migrants.

The legal representative of the Kangleyuan Nursing Home was sentenced to nine years in prison for constructing an illegal extension to the property, while the contractor was given a six-year sentence for using flammable materials to build an extension.

More than two dozen people were killed in two fires in Beijing's migrant neighbourhoods late previous year.

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