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January 20, 2013

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Appeal for illegal firework tip-offs

SHANGHAI residents are being encouraged to report illegal firework sales and storage, as the city fire prevention department prepares for the upcoming Spring Festival on February 10.

Chinese traditionally set off fireworks to celebrate the festival as a sign of happiness and good fortune.

Unlicensed fireworks should be easy to spot, said officials. Electronic tags are attached to licensed fireworks to ensure traceability, while illegal ones have none, fire officials said yesterday.

"But many citizens prefer to buy illegal ones, which might be larger and more spectacular," added Fan Yongqing, a fire prevention officer with Shanghai Fire Protection Bureau.

Citizens can dial "96119" to provide a tip-off, said fire officials yesterday.

Shanghai seizes about 20,000 boxes of illegal and fake fireworks per year on average.

Legal sales total more than 200,000 boxes each year, 80 percent of which are sold during the Spring Festival period.

Typically, dozens of injuries caused by fireworks are reported during the festival, said Fan.

Earlier this month, fire officials seized more than 1,000 boxes of illegal fireworks and firecrackers in a warehouse in Minhang District.

The person who tipped-off officials will receive a reward, said officials.

In other measures, the city will list areas and roads where fireworks are banned over festivals for safety reasons. Anyone flouting the ban will be fined up to 500 yuan (US$80), said officials

The owner of a licensed firework business said yesterday that about 70 percent of fireworks on the market are illegal and that traceability requirements have placed a further burden on legitimate businesses.

"Electronic tags are relatively expensive and have added to our costs," said the owner.

Most of the fireworks set off in Shanghai at festivals are made in other provinces.


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