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Report: 5 Die in Chinese Explosion

February 3, 1999

SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ An explosion at an illegal fireworks factory in southeastern China was so powerful it blew down concrete walls, killing five people, state media said.

One person escaped with injuries in the blast Monday in the village of Luofu near Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang province, the People’s Daily newspaper said Tuesday.

Such explosions are increasingly common in China leading up to Lunar New Year, which traditionally is celebrated by setting off firecrackers. The holiday begins this year on Feb. 16.

After the explosion in Luofu, local authorities ordered a crackdown on illegal fireworks production, the People’s Daily said. It didn’t say whether authorities knew the reason for the explosion or give any other details.

Fireworks are banned in Beijing and at least 20 other major Chinese cities for safety and noise reasons, but are popular in the countryside and often set off illegally in urban areas.

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