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Owners arrested after fatal shoe factory blaze in east China
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17:43, October 25, 2007

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Local police in Putian, a city on the southeast Chinese coast in Fujian province, have arrested two people in connection with a fatal shoe factory blaze in which 37 people died and 19 others were injured on Sunday.

Sources from Putian City government said the duo, Chen Zongfei and Huang Shubin, a married couple, were arrested on Wednesday night by the police with a warrant issued by the local procuratorate alleging their responsibility for failing to prevent the causes of the blaze.

Qiu Jincai, an official in charge of work safety with Xiuyu District Government in Putian, was also suspended from duty because of the accident, said the sources.

The blaze broke out at 9:50 p.m. on Sunday at the six-story "Feida" factory, in Hushi Township of Xiuyu District, Putian City, killing 37 people and injuring 19 others. All the injured are hospitalized, and two of them are in intensive care.

A press release from Fujian Provincial Government claimed that Chen Zongfei and Huang Shubin had twice been ordered over the previous year to stop production and rectify their behavior for using their workshop as a warehouse, a production place and a place of accommodation for their workers as well, but the couple failed to meet the set requirements.

A working group led by Liang Jiakun, deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety, arrived at Putian to investigate the accident.

The local government of Putian City vowed to overhaul the city's shoe workshops, aiming to prevent the potential safety hazard from happening and upgrading its shoe-making industry.

"If there is no curb on the rampant development of the low-standard local shoe workshops, the city's shoe-making industry will face danger of collapse," warned Ruan Jun, deputy mayor of Putian City.

The city boasts more than 200 shoe workshops, of which 190 are registered.
The small workshops, which are also used as warehouses and employee lodging houses, just like the one where the fire broke out, will be shut down in an overhaul from this November to March, said Bao Shaokun, an official with the Fujian Provincial Government.

Putian city, where the shoe-making industry is expected to be worth 20 billion yuan (2.66 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010, has shut 64 small shoe workshops since the fire.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Source: Xinhua

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