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Human error blamed for Shandong stadium fire
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Management negligence was to blame for Tuesday's fire at an indoor stadium under construction for next year's 11th China National Games in the eastern city of Jinan, the city government said on Thursday.

An initial investigation found workers used petrol-fueled burner to melt waterproof sheeting on the stadium roof, but the flame ignited the flammable materials, the Jinan municipal government said in a statement.

"The accident exposed some serious problems in work safety management by the construction company," it said.

Beijing Urban Construction Group Co. Ltd., the construction project contractor, and Zhejiang Jiangnan Project Management Co. Ltd, the project supervision company, were working with local work safety authorities in the investigation into the cause of the blaze, it said.

It took more than three hours for 200 firemen and 44 fire engines to extinguish the fire on Tuesday, which spread to an area of 1,284 square meters. No casualties were reported.

Situated in the eastern suburbs of Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, the stadium is to be part of the Olympic Sports Center, a sporting complex for next year's National Games.

Construction was started in March last year with an estimated investment of 486 million yuan (71.5 million U.S. dollars). It was almost completed and was due to undergo an imminent quality inspection.

It covers an area of 58,000 square meters with 10,000 seats.

The fire was the second at the site in four months after a blaze on July 27 lasted for four hours. No deaths or injuries were reported then, but the flames spread to about 3,000 square meters.

Investigators said sparks during welding were to blame for the previous fire.

Jinan will host the 11th National Games, China's biggest sporting event, next year. The four-yearly event was held last in Nanjing, eastern Jiangsu Province, in 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2008)

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