17 Nov 2010

Crackdown ordered after Shanghai fire

8:41 pm on 17 November 2010

China has ordered a nationwide overhaul of fire safety measures after a blaze in a Shanghai apartment building killed 53 people.

Police are holding eight people after an initial investigation indicated unlicensed welders were responsible.

The State Council, China's cabinet, has issued an order calling for a crackdown on lax enforcement of fire safety measures.

The order said the Shanghai blaze was the latest in a rash of serious fires - it happened just two days after a fire in Beijing burned down the country's oldest university building.

The order also cited a fire earlier this month in a commercial building in the northeastern city of Jilin that killed 19 people.

Police say eight people have been detained on suspicion of criminal Witnesses said the fire started in a pile of construction materials and spread quickly up bamboo scaffolding, setting the whole building alight on Monday.

Shanghai, a city of 20 million residents, has experienced a frenzy of construction activity in recent years.