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40 deaths prompt firework safety drive
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The Ministry of Public Security has urged local police to tighten controls on the production, storage and transport of fireworks following the deaths of 40 people in a series of explosions over the past month.

Seventeen people died and 15 were injured when an explosion tore through a workshop in Chongqing Municipality late last month.

This was the worst of six accidents reported by the ministry on Thursday.

A second occurred two weeks ago at a fireworks factory in Liuyang, Hunan Province, in which 10 people were killed and two were injured.

The other incidents took place in Hebei Province- two cases, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Inner Mongolia, most of them at fireworks factories.

"These frequent explosions show there are still many problems with the production, storage, transport and use of fireworks," a ministry circular issued on Thursday said.

"And their incidence might increase as the New Year and Spring Festival holidays draw near. Therefore, public security departments must step up supervision of all phases of the industry to ensure public safety."

Local police were told to immediately check for breaches of safety regulations at firework factories. These include having overcrowded workshops, overloading fireworks with explosives and mixing highly dangerous procedures in low-level safety areas.

Factories that are found in violation of the rules must cease operations until the conditions are rectified.

Major violators could have their licenses revoked, the circular said.

(Xinhua News Agency November 24, 2007)

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