Fri, Jul 06, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Karaoke bar blast kills 25, injures 33 in northeast China

AP , BEIJING

A blast ripped through a karaoke parlor in northeast China, killing 25 people and injuring 33 others, state media reported yesterday, the latest tragedy in a country hit by poor safety standards and negligence.

Xinhua news agency did not give a cause for the Wednesday night blast in Tianshifu Township in Liaoning Province.

It had earlier put the death toll at five, but said 25 bodies were found when rescuers had finished clearing away debris.

Xinhua said the explosion caused the two-story building to collapse into a heap of reinforcing steel and concrete that also buried several cars.

It said the dead included the parlor's owner.

An official with the Liaoning provincial press office, who gave only his surname, Li, confirmed the blast took place.

Also on Wednesday, a theater manager in Hunan Province died as he evacuated his building during a fire. Xinhua said it was the only confirmed death in the incident, and happened while the manager helped more than 100 people, including many children, escape the fire.

The exact cause of his death was not known, Xinhua said.

China has suffered a series of blasts, fires and accidents in shopping malls, cinemas and other public places despite repeated government promises to improve safety. Many are blamed on lax safety procedures and negligence.

In 2005, a fire in an illegally run bar in the southern city of Zhongshan killed 26 people. Local officials said that the bar lacked fire extinguishers, and that its emergency exit was too narrow.

In the country's worst recent nightclub disaster, a fire blamed on a welding accident tore through a disco in the central city of Luoyang in December 2000, killing 309 people.

Local reports at the time said the building had failed 18 safety checks in two years.

Investigators blamed locked emergency exits for the large number of casualties.

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