9 dead in fire at waste facility in southern China

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Nine people have died in a fire at a waste processing facility in southern China that is suspected of being sparked by fireworks residue, state news agency Xinhua said on Saturday (Feb 17).

The fire broke out in the early hours of the morning in Qingyuan city in the southern province of Guangdong, Xinhua said, citing the local government.

The fire has been extinguished and a survivor with serious burns was taken to hospital, the report said.

Police have detained several suspects in connection with the fire, Xinhua said, without giving details.

"Preliminary investigation showed that fireworks residue initially caused the fire. When three workers were trying to put out the flames, an explosion occurred, killing more people living nearby," it said.

The victims consisted of workers at the facility and their families, who lived in makeshift wooden rooms on the second floor, Xinhua said.

"The garbage burnt quickly and discharged heavy smoke. The victims were unable to escape."

China has just begun a week-long holiday for the Chinese New Year, when fireworks and firecrackers are traditionally let off in celebration.