Local officials penalized for welfare house fire in S China

2008-03-20 22:25:48 Xinhua English

GUANGZHOU, March 21 (Xinhua) -- Two senior local government officials have been removed from their posts for neglect of duty after a welfare house fire that killed eight disabled children earlier this month, according to the Huizhou Civil Affairs Bureau of Guangdong Province on Friday.

Huicheng District Civil Affairs Bureau director Liu Yufeng and deputy director Xu Yangsheng, were among the nine people punished for negligence over the incident.

Lin Qiaochu, head of the Huicheng Welfare House, was dismissed, along with deputy head Luo Shun Cheng, and two other welfare house staff. Three other officials were reprimanded.

They were all held responsible for failing to provide proper emergency monitoring and response procedures.

Yang Huawei, director of the provincial Civil Affairs Bureau, said monitoring facilities would be installed in all welfare houses in Guangdong by October.

The Huicheng district government had allocated more than 1 million yuan to renovate the welfare house.

Eight disabled children aged four to nine, who were either physically or mentally disabled, or blind, died of smoke inhalation at about 3:00 a.m. on March 5. Investigators believe the fire started when a quilt slid off a bed on to smoldering mosquito-repellent incense.

The Huizhou City General Welfare House, established in 1994 and affiliated to the city civil affairs bureau, accommodates 80 elderly widows and retired soldiers. It also housed 60 disabled and orphaned children.