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Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 17:15 GMT
Firework ban leaves 200,000 jobless
Destroyed school building
Even schools are used as workshops
Firework factories are to be closed down in China's impoverished eastern province of Jiangxi following a series of fatal explosions.

Jiangxi was the scene of an explosion at a school which killed 42 people, the vast majority of them children, last March.

The tragedy led to an unprecedented public apology by Premier Zhu Rongji.

Meng Jianzhu, the province's Communist Party secretary, said firework factories would be closed because "We absolutely should not build our economy on those highly dangerous enterprises", according to the official Xinhua news agency.

About 200,000 people work in 9,000 firework factories in Jiangxi and will need to find new jobs.

Fireworks blasts
December 2001: Between 9 and 40 killed in Jiangxi
March 2001: At least 42 killed in Jiangxi
August 2000: At least 21 killed in Jiangxi
June 2000: At least 36 killed in Guangdong
March 2000: 33 killed in Jiangxi

The ban comes less than fortnight after another blast destroyed a warehouse and 10 workshops in the small town of Huangmao.

Local press reports quoted rescue workers as saying about 40 people had died, though the official Xinhua news agency put the death toll at nine.

At the time of the primary school explosion in March, local people said pupils as young as eight regularly assembled firecrackers for a local factory.

The Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights in China said officials used the fireworks business to subsidise the education department's income.

The ban will be phased in over 12 months.

The announcement comes at peak season for the firework industry, ahead of the Chinese New Year in February.

Traditional firecrackers have been banned from many cities, including Beijing, because they are both dangerous and extremely noisy.

Guangdong in south China has a similar ban on firework production.

See also:

01 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
'40 dead' in Chinese fireworks blast
07 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Victims 'were making firecrackers'
05 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
China fireworks blast kills 21
02 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
China closes fireworks factories
07 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Anger of 'firework school' parents
07 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Rising child labour in China
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