by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 1, 2017
Ten people were killed in a fire that broke out in a residential building in northern China Friday morning, local authorities said.
Flames tore through the 38th floor of the apartment building in Tianjin, leaving 10 people dead and five people hospitalised with minor injuries, according to a social media account run by the city government.
An unknown number of "responsible personnel" are in custody while the cause of the fire is being investigated, the statement said.
A "rigorous probe" will be conducted to find "hidden dangers" that could cause future fires, it added.
An area of about 300 square metres was damaged, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing the local fire department.
The incident follows a fire that killed 19 in a low-income housing block in neighbouring Beijing, prompting mass evictions and demolitions around the capital under the premise that unsafe structures must be demolished.
Beijing bans fireworks, evil spirits rejoice
The new regulation was passed by the local government, state news agency Xinhua said, and comes amid a city-wide campaign that is driving an estimated tens of thousands of migrants from homes that authorities deem unsafe following a deadly fire.
In a country that is known for its fireworks -- and is thought to have invented them more than a thousand years ago during the Tang Dynasty -- the ban will likely not be popular.
During the 15-day Lunar New Year period, the bangs, pops and flickers of fireworks are constant, and are thought to drive away evil spirits.
It is unclear if Beijing authorities will enforce the ban during the boisterous national holidays as well.
Firework sellers are worried though.
"No more firework stalls will be allowed within the fifth ring road," said Tao Liang, marketing manager of Panda Fireworks, referring to the road that encircles the heart of the city.
"It's clear that sales will fall a lot."
The ban adds Beijing to a long list of Chinese cities that have restricted firework use in recent years amid safety and pollution concerns.
Those restrictions have sent Panda Fireworks, one of China's largest firework makers, searching for new business.
"Our company has been thinking about the transformation for a long time," said Tao.
"We established Panda International Information Technology Company in 2014, which is doing pretty good."
Lisbon (AFP) Oct 30, 2017
The European Union is re-thinking civil protection assistance, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday, after a request from Portugal which this year suffered several deadly forest fires. "We will consider, at Portugal's request, the reorganisation of civil protection in Europe," Juncker said at a press conference alongside Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. ... read more
Forest and Wild Fires - News, Science and Technology
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