17 killed, 24 hurt in Beijing factory fire

Ref: Seventeen people were killed and 24 injured in a blaze at an illegal Beijing building Monday, state media and officials said, the latest accident to highlight China`s poor fire-safety record.

The fire broke out about 1 am (1700 GMT Sunday) in the four-story building in the capital`s southern Daxing district, the agency said, adding that it was put out by firefighters about an hour later.


The building in Jiugong town was illegally built by a local resident who leased out its ground floor to a couple who ran a garment processing business, Xinhua said.

The fire was believed to have started in the garment workshop, which also did not have the proper business registrations, it said.

State-run broadcaster China Central Television ran video at the scene showing the inside of the concrete structure gutted and charred by fire, and piles of garments still smouldering.

A woman official who answered the phone at the local government headquarters in Jiugong confirmed to AFP the numbers of dead and wounded but said she had no other details.

State-run China Central Television quoted a local official saying an electrical short-circuit was suspected as the cause of the fire, but that an investigation was under way.

The fire spread to upper floors, which were being rented out as residences, Xinhua said. An earlier report by the agency had said workshop employees had been living upstairs.

One of the operators of the garment workshop was among those injured, it added.

Deadly fires are common in China and are typically blamed on lax observation and enforcement of fire-safety measures.

The government routinely orders nationwide safety crackdowns after particularly deadly fires, but such disasters continue to occur.

In November, a fire engulfed a high-rise apartment building in Shanghai, leaving 58 people dead.

A preliminary investigation blamed that inferno on careless work by unlicensed welders who ignited nylon netting swathing the building, which was being renovated to improve energy efficiency.

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