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Arson suspected as 6 die in card room fire in Jiangsu

A fire in a chess and card game facility in Yangzhou that killed six people yesterday was probably caused by arson, a city government official said today.

The fire started at about 8:30 pm in downtown Yangzhou in the eastern province of Jiangsu, said Yao Qili, spokesman of the Yangzhou government.

"The fire was put out soon, and firemen pulled more than 10 people out of the burning room," said Yao, adding that six died in the hospital. The exact number and type of injuries was not immediately known.

He said police were investigating suspicions of arson.

Some witnesses to the fire told Xinhua they had seen a young man carry what appeared to be two containers of gasoline into the facility Monday evening before the fire broke out.

One witness said the young man had owed about 100 yuan (about US$14.7) in debt to the chess room owner and was being hounded to pay his debt.

An owner of a restaurant near the chess room told Xinhua that the 20 -square-meter chess room had four playing tables. He said that before the fire engines could arrive, he had seen three people rush out of the room, engulfed in flames. The three jumped into a nearby river.


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