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Saturday, 5 August, 2000, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
China fireworks blast kills 21
Last month's explosion
Last month's explosion in neighbouring Guangdong province
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing

At least 21 people have been killed and more than 25 others injured in a massive fireworks explosion in Jiangxi province in southern China.


The blast, which tore apart a five-storey apartment building, is the third deadly fireworks explosion in southern China in the last six months.

Officials say the explosion was probably caused by a dropped cigarette, which set off as much as two tonnes of explosives illegally stored in the building by a fireworks manufacturer.

The man had apparently shipped the explosives from northern China, also illegally.

Poor safety record

It is not clear yet whether he was among those killed.

Injured people
Chinese fireworks explosions have become regular occurrences
In March, 33 people were killed in an explosion at a fireworks factory in the same county.

And only last month authorities in neighbouring Guangdong province ordered all fireworks factories to shut down for safety checks after a massive explosion and fire at a fireworks plant killed at least 36 people and possibly as many as 70.

The coastal provinces of southern China are dotted with thousands of small factories that manufacture volatile products like fireworks and disposable cigarette lighters, many of them for export to the West.

Safety measures are minimal or non-existent and accidents common.

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See also:

02 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
China closes fireworks factories
30 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Killer blast at Chinese factory
13 May 00 | Europe
Dutch fireworks disaster
30 May 00 | European
Should fireworks be banned?
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