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January 27, 2011

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Online fireworks sales bring safety fear

CHEAP fireworks bought online to celebrate the Spring Festival could explode en route to customers' homes, fire control officials warned yesterday.

Shanghai Fire Control Bureau urged residents not to buy the bargain items from unauthorized online vendors and accept their free delivery services.

These fireworks of uncertain chemical composition are transported by moped, van or even truck, and if a sudden jolt caused them to explode, the consequences could be disastrous, warned an official surnamed Zhou.

The forthcoming holiday has boosted the online trade, with many people forming groups to purchase fireworks, enticed by wholesale prices and free home delivery.

But the booming business has become a headache for the fire control bureau.

Zhou said transporting fireworks without official permission is strictly forbidden and warned that unlicensed online shops may be selling dangerous fake goods.

Zhou admitted that it was difficult to detect vehicles illegally carrying fireworks, for if they are operating within the city they don't have to pass security checkpoints.

There are no regulations banning the sale of fireworks online but vendors should be licensed.

Shanghai Daily contacted one local fireworks vendor at online trading platform

Prices were at least 20 percent cheaper than at markets, but the vendor couldn't provide a business license and some of his products had neither brand name nor safety qualifications.

He promised to deliver the goods free throughout the city, not via couriers but by staff on mopeds, or driving a van or even truck.

In a bid to reduce the dangers of transporting fireworks, the bureau has allowed some fireworks companies to sell their products near residential communities.

"We have issued more than 1,600 temporary business licenses to designated fireworks companies, allowing them to do business near residents' homes," said Zhou.

During the Spring Festival, fireworks will be banned within 50 meters of construction sites with scaffolding, indoors and on balconies and roofs.

Entertainment venues, restaurants and hotels are also banned from setting off fireworks.


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