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Fire in a fireworks factory

2000 June 30th. -- China, Guangdong province: fire in a fireworks factory; at least 36 people died.

The death toll in the explosion of a fireworks factory in Jiangmen on Friday has risen to 36 with more than 160 injured.

The explosion, happened at 8:05 am, leveled the 3,200 square-metre factory. More than 1,000 police and fire fighters and 16 fire trucks were dispatched to the scene.

Surrounding fireworks producers have been ordered to cease operation for inspections by city and State officials investigating the incident.

Led by the vice-mayor of Jiangmen, He Xiansong, the Jiangmen municipal government has established seven special task forces to handle compensation to victims' families and other affairs in the aftermath.

The fireworks factory was owned by a foreign trade company of Jiangmen and operated by Hong Kong business people.

The operators have agreed to compensate the families. Initial compensations worth 500,000 yuan (US$60,240) have been sent to Jiangmen.

The vice-mayor said the local government is busy negotiating with the victims' families for the amounts of compensation and identifications of the deaths.

He said the compensation issue will be handled in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, such as the 58th Order of the Guangdong Provincial Government, the 70th Regulation of Labour Law and the Industrial Insurance Regulations of Guangdong Province which were issued in 1998.

Two deputy managers of the factory have been arrested by local police for further investigation into the accident.

Guangdong Governor Lu Ruihua has required all fireworks factories and lighter firms in the southern Chinese province to stop production for anti-fire inspections during a fire prevention and production safety conference held in Jiangmen on Saturday.

Mayors and officials in charge of fire prevention from 22 cities in Guangdong were required to attend the conference.

Besides the high-profile officials from Guangdong Province, officials from the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Supervision, the State Commission for Safety Production and the All China Federation of Trade Unions also took part in the meeting.

Guangdong, which fringes Hong Kong and Macao, registers a total of 408 fireworks factories and 55 lighter companies

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