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Beijing on alert for fire during lunar new year festival

(Xinhua)

12:40, January 23, 2012

BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Beijing's public security authorities have deployed seven police choppers and mobilized large number of people to keep watch fireworks-triggered emergencies on the Chinese lunar new year holiday starting from Sunday.

The choppers will conduct 50 hours of flight in total during the seven-day holiday, the only time when fireworks are allowed to be let off in Beijing's city proper, Yang Dongfeng, head of the Police Chopper Corps of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, said.

The choppers conducted aerial monitoring on Sunday and sent back real-time images to the ground control during the peak hours, such as midnight, when people set off fireworks to celebrate the coming of new year, Yang said.

Meanwhile, more than 910,000 people, including police officers and civilian volunteers, were mobilized to patrol busy commercial districts and residential areas Sunday night to prevent potential fire risks.

Weeks earlier, Beijing police had beefed up security at the city's border by checking every vehicle that enters the capital to prevent people bringing in substandard fireworks which were louder, more powerful but unsafe for the non-professionals to set off.

Beijing allows people to buy fireworks at nearly 1,500 licensed stores within the fifth Ring Road. Over the past three weeks, local police had seized more than 12,000 cartons of such banned fireworks, closed 32 illegal stores and penalized 29 people.

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