Shantou fire 'not arson'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 July, 2000, 12:00am

SHANTOU'S Public Security Bureau has dismissed speculation that a guesthouse fire that killed five people, including two corruption investigators, was an arson attack.

Announcing the findings of an investigation on Friday, the bureau told the Shantou Daily that the blaze at Shantou Yingbinguan Guesthouse, in Guangdong province, on July 15 had been caused by an overheated vacuum flask. It ruled out the possibility of arson.

The bureau also confirmed for the first time the identities of the five victims: two were investigators from the Guangdong Provincial Disciplinary Inspection Commission and the other three were from the Radio and Television Bureau in the nearby city of Shunde. The victims were all men aged between 32 to 51.

Two other staff members of the television bureau were seriously injured but the report made no mention of their condition.

The announcement countered speculation that the fire at the state-run guesthouse was targeted at the graft busters, who were believed to be investigating corruption in the province.

It also disputed a report posted earlier on China Central Television's Web site, which said four of the victims were from the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection, the mainland's top anti-corruption body.

According to the week-long investigation by the bureau and experts from the fire service, the blaze broke out in a room on the second floor of the building when a flask near a window became overheated at 4.35am.

'No anomaly was found in the room. Hence the possibility of an arson attack was ruled out,' the paper quoted the report as saying.