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Report: Unpaid wages inspired deadly China arson

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 8:09 am

BEIJING — A former worker told state media Wednesday he set the fire that killed 14 young workers at a Chinese undergarment factory because he was angry about less than $500 in unpaid wages.

The suspect, Liu Shuangyun, told the Guangdong TV broadcaster in a jailhouse interview that he started the fire "because I couldn't get my salary," which he had been owed since quitting the factory three years ago.

Asked whether he had thought about or regretted the loss of life the fire had caused, Liu said, "I didn't think about these things."

Fourteen people were killed and one was seriously injured in the fire Tuesday afternoon in Shantou city in Guangdong province, the provincial emergency department said on its microblog.

The 14 victims were all women aged 18 to 20, the Southern Metropolis Daily said in an online report. The official Xinhua News Agency said the victims were 13 women and one man. It said Liu, a 26-year-old migrant worker from Hunan province, had been arrested, but it didn't specify what charges he faced.

The case has underscored the hand-to-mouth existence of many young Chinese migrant workers and raised questions about basic fire safety awareness at the countless small factories that churn out clothes, toys and other goods and have helped power China's dizzying economic growth for decades.