Police arrest suspect in China arson attack that killed 18

Police arrest suspect in China arson attack that killed 18

BEIJING — Police in a southern Chinese city have caught a man suspected of setting a fire at a three-story building Tuesday that killed 18 people and injured five others.

The public security bureau of Qingyuan City in Guangdong province said authorities arrested a 32-year-old man named Liu Chunlu in the county-level city of Yingde, which Qingyuan oversees.

Police had offered a 200,000 yuan ($32,000) reward for the man they accuse of starting the fire early Tuesday morning.

The bureau said the man had burns on his hips. It did not provide a motive for the arson, but state broadcaster China Central Television reported the suspect had set fire to a karaoke parlour after an argument with others.

The suspect blocked the entrance of the joint with his motorcycle and then ignited it, setting it ablaze, CCTV said. The parlour had only one passage for entering and exiting, the report said.

Police, fire, health and other departments sent rescuers to the site after receiving a call around half-past midnight about the fire, the Qingyuan police said.

The fire was put out at 12:55 a.m. and the injured had been sent to the hospital, the bureau said on its official account on the microblog site, Sina Weibo.

China suffers frequent deadly fires and industrial accidents, often blamed on negligence.

Last year, police arrested a man suspected of setting fire to a two-story house in eastern China, killing 22 people. At that time, investigators discovered traces of gasoline at the scene of the pre-dawn fire in Jiangsu province and found all the doors of the house locked.

The Associated Press