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China Voice: Blind eyes are deadlier than blazes

By Gui Tao (Xinhua)

10:28, January 06, 2013

Photo taken on Jan. 4, 2013 shows a destroyed bike at the fire accident site in Lankao County, central China's Henan Province. A fire broke out in a residential building in Chengguan Township of Lankao County at about 8:30 a.m. on Friday and was extinguished about two hours later. Four children were killed on the spot, three died on the way to hospital and one other is still being treated in the hospital. An initial investigation showed that the accident site was an adoptive family where the children killed and injured lived in. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. (Xinhua/Zhu Xiang)

BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- An unregistered, unlicensed "foster home" did not become a prominent issue until six children and one adult died in a fire in central China's Henan Province on Friday.

The selective blindness of the local government and media reports prior to the tragedy has turned out to be more dangerous than the fire itself. And until those with the power to rectify these issues open their eyes, similar tragedies are bound to happen.

The government of Lankao County ignored the fact that the county with a population of nearly 800,000 has no official welfare home for children. Although it is "very necessary" to have such a place for orphaned or abandoned children, Feng Jie, a county government official, reportedly acknowledged, "It is not one of the government's development priorities."

The run-down two-story home where 34 orphaned and abandoned children were living at the time of the accident had been a blind spot for the local government. Their logic seems to follow that because Yuan Lihai, the woman who has been running the "foster home" for over 25 years, was taking care of the children, there were no problems. For them, the orphaned and abandoned children were out of sight and out of mind.

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