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January 4, 2010

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Work suspended after firework blast

NORTHWEST China's Shaanxi Province has suspended all firework production after a firecracker factory explosion claimed nine lives on the first day of the year.

The provincial government yesterday urged local production safety supervision departments to work with public security and industry and commerce departments to oversee a thorough overhaul of all fireworks plants in the province.

A joint investigation team found that the explosion at the Xinping Firecrackers Co Ltd in Pucheng County was the result of bad management, with the company expediting production to seize more share of the festive market.

More than 100 people were at work when the blast occurred. The explosion tore down all seven of the company's workshops, which were only 500 meters from the nearest farmhouse of Yilong Village.

The company boss, Qu Pingxin, a native of Yilong Village, surrendered himself to police on Saturday, a day after he had fled, said Zhi Jianfeng, deputy head and public security chief of Pucheng County.

Investigators said the workshops were overcrowded and the workers were not well trained in safety production knowledge.

Four of the eight injured victims are in serious condition. One of the slightly injured has been discharged from hospital.

The county is a traditional production base for festive explosives, said Wang Zhaoyu, director of the county's Fireworks Administration Bureau. He said the county had 30,000 people employed in fireworks plants.

Last year, six workers died in four accidents in firework plants in the county, he said.

Cheng Jianlong, a production safety official, said the county government had encouraged mergers of family workshops since 2007 in order to upgrade the industry.


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