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Firm pays 3 mln yuan for fireworks blast
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The owner of a south China warehouse complex that was rocked by explosions of stored fireworks last week has prepaid 3 million yuan (400,000 U.S. dollars) to nearby residents in compensation for damage caused by the blasts.

Sources with the Yuetong Warehouse and Transport Co., in Foshan city, Guangdong Province, said that the advance payment would be used as disaster relief funds and be used to help local residents restore production.

Yuetong had consigned the damage assessment to the Xi'nan neighborhood committee of Sanshui and would honor the recommendations, said the sources.

The explosions damaged 4,000 houses in the surrounding villages of Jianggen, Zhoubian, Wudinggang and Nan'an. About 18,200 domestic fowl and livestock were dead and crops on nine hectares had been destroyed.

Since Friday, 41 teams had been assessing the losses. Most buildings had received only minor damage and villagers had returned home.

Foshan environment authorities said air and water quality was back to normal, posing no threat to public health.

The blasts started around 3:30 a.m. on Thursday at the No. 7 building of the private firm based in Sanshui district of Foshan, on the northern bank of the Pearl River.

The explosions lasted more than 30 hours and set neighboring woods on fire.

Yuetong is said to handle 60 to 70 percent of China's exported fireworks, most of which are made in neighboring Hunan and Jiangxi provinces.

 (Xinhua News Agency February 18, 2008)

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