27 held over deadly blast at Liaoning karaoke bar

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2007, 12:00am

Twenty-seven suspects have been arrested and will face prosecution in connection with a karaoke bar blast in Benxi , Liaoning province , last month which killed at least 25 people.

The suspects, including Qu Yiming , believed to be an older brother of Qu Yijie , the bar's licensee, and Wang Jingyin , the corporate representative of a local entertainment firm that owns the venue, will face charges relating to the 'illicit manufacturing, trade, transport and storage of explosives', Xinhua said.

The blast in Benxi's Tianshifu township on the night of July 4 also injured more than 30 patrons and staff, according to official accounts. But many residents in the mining town of 40,000 remain sceptical over the death toll, saying more could have died later from their injuries. Most of those who died were young.

Traces of the powerful explosive TNT were found under the rubble, and locals estimated there could have been several tonnes stored there, given the intensity of the blast and the destruction it caused.

Xinhua said a deputy head of the prosecutor's office in Benxi had taken charge of pre-trial proceedings because of the gravity of the case and the large number of suspects involved.

One local said she learned the authorities intended to stage an open trial in Tianshifu next Wednesday in an attempt to defuse grievances over the handling of the case.

Ms Lan, whose 27-year-old daughter, Jin Wei , was killed while attending a karaoke session with friends that night, said the family had received 200,000 yuan in compensation. 'But justice has not been served,' she said, adding that so many questions were left unanswered, such as whether the bar had been operating without a licence or whether there had been any safety checks on the premises.

Residents in Tianshifu who were familiar with the venue said the blast was a tragedy waiting to happen because there were few safety precautions in place.

Ms Lan said the authorities could not shirk their liability over the blast. 'Why has there not been a single implication of local officials?' she asked.

The licensee of the karaoke bar, Qu Yijie, previously identified as Qu Hua , was a well connected businessman in Tianshifu and owned a number of mines. He was killed in the blast.