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64 workshops closed in E China in wake of fatal shoe factory blaze
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20:11, October 26, 2007

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A total of 64 small, shoe factories or workshops have been closed in Xiuyu, a district in Putian City, Fujian Province, following a fatal blaze which claimed 37 lives and injured 19 others.

Ruan Jun, Vice Mayor of Putian City, said "problems with the 64 shoe factories were discovered in an inspection launched in the city" shortly after the fire which ripped through the six-story "Feida" factory, in Hushi Township of Xiuyu District, Putian City, at 9:50 p.m. on Sunday, killing 37 workers and injuring 19 more.

The shoe factories closed this time were all found to have similar problems to Feida, said Ruan.

"These small shoe factories were a source of many ills: Phoney products, labor disputes and tax evasion and should be shut down with determination," said Ruan, who added they had also started a citywide campaign to inspect all shoe factories. The campaign will last until next March.

Putian is a primary shoemaking base in China and is now home to more than 200 shoemaking ventures.

A press release from Fujian Provincial Government claimed that Chen Zongfei and Huang Shubin, a married couple who owned the Feida factory, 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, the press release said.

Police in Putian on Wednesday arrested the couple, with a warrant issued by the local procuratorate alleging their responsibility for failing to prevent the causes of the blaze.

A special investigative group of the State Council, China's highest governing body, was set up on Friday to look into the cause of the Feida factory blaze, with Liang Jiaqun, deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety, in charge.

In the meantime, 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 local sources.

All the injured from Sunday's blaze are still hospitalized, and two of them are in intensive care at Hospital 95.

Source: Xinhua

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