Local authorities said Monday that the death toll in a shoe factory fire in southeast China has risen to 37, with another 19 people injured, China Daily reports.
The blaze, one of the deadliest industrial accidents this year in a country plagued with dangerous workplaces, broke out Sunday night at a six-story factory where shoe uppers were made, in Putian City, Fujian Province. Firemen succeeded in putting the fire out in about one hour.
The blaze was likely caused by an electric wire that caught fire, according to a spokeswoman for the city police.
Initial investigations showed 56 workers were working in the factory at the time of the fire, which spread over 520 square meters, Zhu Qing, director of the information office of the Fujian provincial government, said at a news briefing on Monday.
The owner and manager of the factory, a husband and wife team, had been detained by police, Zhu said.
Zhu said the workshop was operating with a license, despite earlier reports that said it was an unlicensed facility.
Local authorities are continuing investigations.
Last year, 14,382 people died in 12,065 industrial accidents in China, not including fires, according to the State Administration of Work Safety. The agency recorded three major blazes in 2006, killing a total of 38 people.
The shoe factory fire was not the only workplace accident in China on Sunday. According to the official Xinhua news agency, a fireworks plant exploded in Chongqing municipality, killing 16 and leaving 15 injured and one missing.
Death toll in Chinese shoe factory fire rises to 37 (10/24)
October 24, 2007