China

China's deadly shopping blaze 'started by boy, nine'

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Media captionFootage shows an excavator cutting a hole in the building to help people escape

A blaze at a shopping centre that killed 17 people was started by a nine-year-old boy "playing with a lighter", Chinese police said in a statement.

The inferno broke out on the fourth floor of the building in Huizhou in Guangdong province on Thursday afternoon.

The young suspect has been detained for questioning.

Rescue efforts took a number of hours, with four firefighters injured, one of them seriously.

Some 270 firefighters and 45 fire engines were needed to extinguish the flames, police said.

Footage from the scene showed an excavator dismantling one wall of the building to allow trapped people to escape.

Four firefighters were injured during the rescue mission, one seriously.

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Image caption Medical personnel wait next to stretchers as people are rescued from the building

Police said the flames quickly spread to the whole floor.

Nine managers at the mall were also detained by the authorities.

China has a dismal industrial safety record as some property and business owners evade regulations to save money and pay off corrupt officials to look the other way.

A fire at a poultry plant in the north-east of the country killed 119 people in 2013.

Reports at the time said that managers had locked doors inside the factory to prevent workers from going to the toilet, leading to the high death toll.

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