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New details disprove Tianjin mall death toll rumors

By Li Qian  (Shanghai Daily)

14:39, July 18, 2012

MORE details have emerged to dismiss public rumors that up to 300 people had died in a shopping mall fire in Jixian County in north China's port city of Tianjin.

No one has been reported missing in the wake of the blaze after 10 people were confirmed victims, said Zhang Baoliang, vice director of the county public security bureau.

Mall worker Wang Lihong, who survived the incident, said less than 200 people were present when the fire engulfed the five-story Laide Shopping Mall on the afternoon of June 30, according to a program of China Central TV Station.

A 23-year-old man surnamed Liu who claimed to be an armed police officer and spread the rumors that 300 were burned to death, has admitted fabricating the number of casualties.

"I didn't witness it. I just heard it from others and started to make up the death toll," he said in the report.

In his posts, a sea of customers was attracted to the mall by promotions and the mall closed its gates to prevent people from escaping without paying.

Wang Fang, another mall worker, denied it, saying there were no promotions on that day, and Li Jianfeng, a firefighter who engaged in the rescue, said the mall never tried to lock anyone inside.

"We don't have space to put 300 bodies," Liu Yanhai, employee from the county's funeral house, told the report.

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