China warehouse fire kills 12

BEIJING, July 12, 2011 (AFP) - A fierce blaze ripped through a warehouse in central China on Tuesday killing at least 12 people who were trapped inside, state media and the local fire brigade said.

Scores of people managed to flee the building after the fire broke out at an industrial park in Hubei province's Wuhan city, but some remained stuck inside, the official Xinhua news said.

A spokesman for the city's fire brigade, who refused to be named, said the fire had now been put out. "At present, 12 people have died and the reason for the blaze is still under investigation," he said.

Firefighters rescued eight people from the blaze, which tore through more than 1,000 square metres (10,760 square feet) of the warehouse, the Xinhua report said.

Deadly blazes are common in China and are typically blamed on lax observation and enforcement of fire-safety measures.

Anxious to quell public anger over repeated fire disasters, China's government routinely orders nationwide safety crackdowns after particularly deadly blazes, but such incidents continue to occur.

In April, 17 poor migrants died when a fire swept through an illegally constructed building in Beijing.

Last November, a fire engulfed a high-rise apartment building in Shanghai, leaving 58 people dead.

A preliminary investigation blamed that inferno on careless work by unlicensed welders who ignited nylon netting swathing the building, which was being renovated to improve energy efficiency.