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China mourns victims of deadly Shanghai fire
by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Nov 15, 2011

Scores of mourners placed flowers and burned incense on Tuesday for the one-year anniversary of the worst fire since 1949 in China's commercial hub of Shanghai, which killed 58 people.

The fire engulfed a downtown residential block, injured 71 and became a focus of public anger.

A government investigation showed welders working for an unlicensed company accidentally ignited nylon netting around the 28-storey building, which was being renovated to improve energy efficiency.

But the fire -- Shanghai's worst since the founding of the People's Republic of China -- also raised questions about the close relations between the contractors and authorities in the district where the building was located.

Former building residents, relatives and others gathered in a fenced-in area outside the derelict building to place wreaths and offerings for the dead, such as food, on a makeshift altar under the watchful eyes of police.

One former resident, overcome with grief, cried for several minutes. "My heart feels heavy," she told AFP.

Another woman, who declined to be named, said she had come to mourn her cousin Wang Fang who lost her life in the fire.

"We came to remember her," she said. "The government is unfeeling," she added, referring to the dispute between the government and families over compensation.

Some 57 families have accepted compensation offered by the local government for their destroyed homes, but more than 100 are still holding out, the state-run Global Times newspaper reported Tuesday.

Shanghai jailed 25 people over the disaster and handed out administrative penalties to 28 officials for responsibility for the fire, it said.

Gao Weizhong, head of construction in Shanghai's central Jing'an district where the fire occurred, was found guilty of abuse of power and accepting bribes for awarding building contracts, and jailed for 16 years.

In a commentary, the official Xinhua news agency blamed the disaster on bad management and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

"This is a human disaster that could have been avoided," it said.

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Ten die in China house collapse: Xinhua
Beijing (AFP) Nov 15, 2011 - Ten people died and another 12 were injured when a house collapsed during a funeral gathering in central China, the state Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.

Eight people were killed immediately in the accident, which happened in Hunan province late Monday, and another two died of their injuries in hospital, local officials told Xinhua.

The 12 injured are in a stable condition after the accident, which happened as villagers were making arrangements for the funeral of the home owner's uncle, Xinhua said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the accident. AFP's calls to the local hospital went unanswered.


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North China gas blast kills eight: state media
Beijing (AFP) Nov 14, 2011
An explosion ripped through a fast-food restaurant in China Monday, killing at least eight people including a child and shattering windows up to three kilometres away, officials and state media said. Among the victims were children who were passing by the building on their way to school at the time of the blast, the official Xinhua news agency said. Photographs taken outside the high-ris ... read more

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