Italian president calls for legal working conditions after factory fire

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Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Wednesday stressed the need to ensure legal, safe working conditions after a fire killed seven Chinese workers at a factory in central Italy.

While giving his condolences to the local Chinese community, Napolitano underlined the importance of "interventions to prevent illegal working conditions."

The president said the goal was to combine economic development in the area, which is a major manufacturing district in Europe, with the protection of human life and health.

Echoing Napolitano's remarks, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said his government would "implement a planning and reorganization" in the district.

A fire broke out early Sunday at a garment plant in the suburbs of the city of Prato, just north of Florence in central Italy, where there is a large concentration of Chinese businesses employing at least 30,000 workers.

Seven people lost their lives while two others sustained serious burn injuries, ANSA news agency said.

Local police said the sparks that caused the fire originated from the collapse of some plasterboard cubicles in the factory, which were used for workers' accommodation.

For the past two decades, Chinese immigrants have played a dominant role in Prato's garment industry. The turnover of at least 4,000 small companies is estimated at 2 billion euros a year (2.7 billion U.S. dollars), according to a recent study conducted by Tuscany's regional institute for economic planning (IRPET). Endi

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