Chinese shoe factory fire kills 37

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BEIJING, Oct 22 (Reuters) A fire swept through a shoe factory in southeastern China, killing 37 employees working overtime and injuring another 19, state media said today.

The fire broke out at the unlicensed factory in the suburbs of Putian city, in Fujian province, late yesterday, the semi-official China News Service said.

The factory, where storage rooms, workshops and dormitories were in the same building, had failed to carry out government orders earlier this year to eliminate fire dangers, the news agency said.

Police have detained the couple who owned the factory and an investigation was under way.

Fujian has been a magnet for young migrant peasant workers from inland provinces as the country's economy took off in the past three decades, with factories of all kinds dotting coastal areas.

Working conditions are poor and wages meagre by Western standards, but the hard manual labour is still attractive for China's vast rural population.

Separately, the death toll from Sunday's explosion at a fireworks factory in the southwestern city of Chongqing rose to 16 from three, the official Xinhua news agency said today.

The blast also injured 15 people and left another missing, Xinhua said, citing a local Communist Party official.

REUTERS SG HT1617

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