At least 11 people died and six were injured in a garment factory fire yesterday in an eastern Guangdong city notorious for such accidents.
The blaze broke out at about 1.30pm in a four-storey building that housed raw materials, a sewing workshop and a workers' dormitory in Shadui village, Puning city, near Shantou, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
Seven fire trucks and 45 firemen struggled to contain the blaze at the underwear factory that also housed raw materials including plastic and foam that gave of toxic fumes. These may have contributed to the fatalities, all of whom appeared to have suffocated, officials said.
Seventeen people were rescued, including the six injured who suffered from smoke inhalation. Two were in critical situation.
The authorities said the cause of the accident was still under investigation and gave no further details.
However, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily, there was no fire prevention equipment in the building, whose owners were absent. Local work safety laws stipulate that warehouses, factories and dormitories must not be housed in the same building.
The municipal government said at its website that it planned to launch a fire hazard safety campaign, and would crack down on factories and residential buildings that did not have safety and construction certification.
Puning and Shantou have seen at least five similar deadly fires at small factories in residential buildings in the past decade. In December 2012, 14 young women workers died in a blaze at a lingerie factory in Shantou. In April that year, three workers died a workshop in in a four-storey building. In February 2010, seven people died in Daping village in Puning. In May, 2006, 13 workers died in Gurao Township in Shantou, and in December 2003, 10 workers died in Hudong village in Puning.