China officials to be punished for dance hall blaze / Mundo,
22 September 2008, China

China will likely sack five officials in connection with a fire at an illegal dance club in southern China, just across the border from Hong Kong, which killed 43 mostly young people and injured 88.

Police had detained 13 people in connection with the fire including the manager of the unlicensed club in Longgang, a blue-collar area about an hour's taxi ride from Shenzhen.

The fire broke out on Saturday night at the "King of the Dancers" club, when more than 300 people were watching a show.

Fireworks set off during the show ignited flammable material in the ceiling leading to the blaze, the official Xinhua news agency reported citing an initial police investigation.

China's Ministry of Culture has also ordered a national safety sweep on all "cultural and performance facilities" and would close any unlicensed venues, Xinhua said.

The five officials include the head of the local fire department. The blaze is a grim reminder of the country's broken regulatory system and patchy fire safety regulations.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and James Pomfret in Hong Kong)