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Children paid 1 yuan a day at fireworks factory

TWO children who died and 11 who were injured in an explosion at an unlicensed fireworks workshop were working for 1 yuan (US 15 cents) a day, one of the young workers told state television today.

They spent the money on snacks and pens as most of them were left behind by parents working outside the remote village in southwest China, said grade-6 pupil Yang Xiaoli.

She and her classmates at Zhiyang Primary School in Hezhou City, Guangzi Zhuang Autonomous Region, worked to put fuses into the firecrackers and were paid 0.3 yuan for each 1,000 fuses, Yang told CCTV.

In the blast on November 12, two sisters were killed and another 11 youngsters injured, aged between 7 and 14. A 61-year-old person suffered severe burns.

All the victims lived with a single parent or grandparents.

Two workshop owners, Yang Wanwen and Xie Qingsui, are in police custody on charges of employing child labor and producing dangerous goods without a license.

Four children suffered burns to over 90 percent of their bodies and four have burns to 55-78 percent of their bodies, according to Zeng Xianbiao, director of Hezhou's Health Bureau. Four are still in critical condition.

Hezhou's government has allocated 1 million yuan (US146,473) to help the children but it was far from enough, Zeng said.

There are 58 million "left-behind" children nationwide, with 40 million under 14 years old, CCTV said.


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