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Joint Group to Probe Fire and Building Collapse

A joint group of government officials and experts is to look into the cause of the serious fire and collapse of a building, in which 20 firefighters died in central-south China's Hunan Province.


The group will be composed of leading officials from central and local governments. Eleven experts on fire control and construction have also been engaged in the investigation.


The group confirmed Monday that it would be investigating structural aspects of the building as well as the blaze.


In addition to causes of the fire and collapse, establishing responsibility for the accident was also the objective of the investigation. The group is also expected to offer suggestions on how to avoid similar accidents.


Because the destruction of the building, it was difficult to confirm the direct and indirect cause of the accident so soon, said the group leader Wang Dexue, or director of the State Safety Production Administration. The possibility of further collapses had hindered the site investigation.


The group will collect evidence and question those connected to the accident and the building collapse, according to members of the group.


The firefighters died when the building collapsed as they battled courageously a raging blaze in Hengyang City in central-south Hunan Province on Nov. 3. It was the worst tragedy involving firefighters ever since the founding of new China in 1949.


(Xinhua News Agency November 11, 2003)

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