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Fatal Beijing factory fire sparked by electric bike

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 26, 2011
A deadly fire that swept through an illegally constructed Beijing building this week, killing 17 poor migrants, was triggered by an electric tricycle, state media said Tuesday.

Another 25 people were hurt in the fire that broke out in the early hours of Monday morning in the four-storey building in the capital's southern Daxing district, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

Xinhua quoted an official from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau as saying the fire was sparked by a "malfunctioning electric tricycle" stored in the building.

At least seven people, including two children, remained in a critical condition, it said.

"Those suspected of criminal negligence in relation to the fire have been detained," the unnamed official was quoted saying.

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 in an earlier report.

The victims were all migrant workers living in the building and mostly died from smoke inhalation.

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

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

Xinhua said earlier some of the building's windows were protected by iron bars which may have prevented people from escaping the fire.

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