Shanghai gov't dismisses rumors about plastic-packaging factory fire

2008-07-24 10:57:48 GMT       2008-07-24 18:57:48 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

SHANGHAI, July 24 (Xinhua) -- The Shanghai municipal government on Thursday moved to quash rumors that firefighting equipment at a plastic-packaging factory where a blaze killed three firefighters last week was substandard.

Investigations showed that two companies designed and installed the firefighting equipment at the Rexam Plastic Packaging (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. in Fengxian District., and both were qualified to do so, said municipal government spokesman Chen Qiwei.

An overhead beam fell and killed three firefighters, and injured nine others as they fought the fire on July 17. Structural flaws in the storehouses are blamed for the accident, police said earlier.

Shanghai media received anonymous letters claiming that the two fire equipment companies used by the factory were substandard and did not have certificates.

"But both passed appraisement by the firefighting departments," said the letter, adding that a trivial fire hit Rexam on April 1, but related departments did not take that seriously.

Chen said at a news conference that investigations show that both companies are qualified and what the letter claimed is unfounded.

The earlier, trivial April 1 fire, which covered 350 square meters of floor space, was caused by a welder who didn't have a certificate, said Chen, stressing that the public security department detained the welder, surnamed Wan, for ten days and fined Wan's company 5,000 yuan (about 714 US dollars).

The allegation that the April 1 fire was covered up was untrue too, said Chen, who pledged that an investigation team is probing the cause of the fire and will publicize its findings.

British firm Rexam is one of the world's largest consumer packaging groups and a leading beverage can maker. Its Shanghai company was established in 1992.

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