18 dead in China karaoke lounge fire, arson suspect detained

Karaoke is a popular activity in China, with even shopping centers featuring booths where people can sit and sing their favorite songs. (AFP)
Updated 24 April 2018
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18 dead in China karaoke lounge fire, arson suspect detained

  • Karaoke is a popular activity in China, with even shopping centers featuring booths where people can sit and sing their favorite songs
BEIJING: A fire tore through a karaoke lounge in southern China on Tuesday, killing 18 people and injuring another five, as authorities arrested an arson suspect who had reportedly blocked the entrance with a motorcycle.
The fire started after midnight in a three-story building in Yingde, Guangdong province, and was put out shortly before 1:00 am local time, according to the police.
A preliminary investigation found that it was caused by arson, the public security department in Qingyuan city, which oversees Yingde, said on its Weibo social media account.
The suspect got into an argument, then used a motorcycle to block the building’s door and lit the fire, state broadcaster CCTV said, adding that he was on the lam.
Police said the suspect was captured in a village district, shortly after authorities offered a 200,000-yuan ($32,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of a man identified as a 32-year-old with burn marks on his hips.
The official Xinhua news agency, citing the city government, said the suspect, identified as Liu Chunlu, confessed after he was arrested at his home.
“I was drunk last night and had had a fight with unknown people (before the fire),” Liu told police, according to Xinhua.
The police statement did not describe the location of the fire but state media said it occurred in a small KTV house, or karaoke lounge.
Unverified videos from the scene posted by local media show flames leaping from the building on a tree-lined street at night, with fire trucks and a crowd of onlookers on the road.
The five injured people are receiving treatment in a hospital, state TV said.
Karaoke is a popular activity in China, with even shopping centers featuring booths where people can sit and sing their favorite songs.
Larger KTV lounges proliferate as well, often spanning across multiple floors in a building, with narrow corridors linking dozens of individual rooms together.
The lounge where the fire occurred was smaller, with only one corridor for entry and exit, state TV said.
Merrymakers often go for a buffet dinner and sing and drink with a small group of friends in the private rooms late into the night.
Deadly fires are common in China, where safety regulations are widely flouted and enforcement is often lax.


Moon back in NASA’s court 50 years after 1st lunar landing

Updated 20 min 54 sec ago
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Moon back in NASA’s court 50 years after 1st lunar landing

  • The White House wants US astronauts on the moon by 2024, a scant five years from now

CAPE CANAVERAL: The moon is back in NASA’s court 50 years after humanity’s first lunar footsteps.
The White House wants US astronauts on the moon by 2024, a scant five years from now. The moon will serve as a critical proving ground for the real prize of sending astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.
The billionaires’ space club including Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk is on board.
But Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins prefers a beeline to Mars. Buzz Aldrin, too, is a longtime Mars backer.
NASA’s Project Artemis aims for a landing on the moon’s south pole. The space agency says astronauts on the next moon landing will spend a longer time on the lunar surface unlike the Apollo missions.