Arson fire in clothing factory in China kills 14

AP News
Posted: Dec 04, 2012 9:35 PM

BEIJING (AP) — A former worker told state media Wednesday he set the fire that killed 14 young women at a Chinese clothing factory because he was angry over several hundred dollars in unpaid wages.

The suspect, Liu Shuangyun, told Guangdong Satellite Television during a taped jailhouse interview early Wednesday morning that he started the fire "because I couldn't get my salary."

Asked whether he had thought about or regretted the loss of life the fire had caused, Liu said: "I didn't think about these things."

Fourteen people were killed and one person was seriously injured in the fire Tuesday afternoon in Shantou city in Guangdong province, the provincial emergency department said on its microblog.

The Southern Metropolis Daily said in an online report that the victims were all women aged 18-20.

"The whole time, I've been very impulsive, very angry about this," Liu said during the television interview. "So I did these things."

Sitting on a chair, his hands in handcuffs, Liu said the factory boss owed him 3,000 yuan (US$461). The reporter said Liu quit the factory three years ago and that since then his former boss had only given him excuses for why he couldn't pay the back wages.

A photo accompanying its report showed a four-story building, lined with windows on each floor, its front completely blackened. The fire had not spread to an adjacent building.

Senior provincial officials set up a team to investigate and step up safety measures to avoid similar fatal fires, Guangdong's emergency department said. The factory made underwear, it said.

Last month, a fire at a clothing factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people and highlighted dangerous workplace conditions. Survivors and authorities there said exit doors were locked and the building lacked emergency exits.