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Two people convicted for ancient palace fire disaster
( 2003-07-04 17:11) (Xinhua)

Two people convicted for a major fire that burned down an ancient palace at Mount Wudang, on the World Cultural Heritage List for unique ancient Chinese architecture, have been sentenced to jail terms.

According to a ruling handed down by the People's Court of Danjiangkou City, central China's Hubei Province, Zhou Jinbo, a coach from a private kung fu school, was sentenced to five-and-a- half years, and Yang Xialin, a student from the same school, received a four-and-a-half year sentence.

The pair's appeal against a verdict delivered on June 27 was rejected.

The court ruling held that Yang violated rules in erecting lines of electric light bulbs around Yuzhen Palace.

Zhou Jinbo was found to have been negligent for continuing to use the lights, which led to the fire.

The defendants did not anticipate the potential disastrous aftermath though they should have done so, said the court verdict.

After the trial, both Zhou and Yang vowed to appeal again to a higher court.

The 600-year-old Yuzhen Palace, which covered an area of over 50,000 square meters, represented a typical example in late imperial Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) architecture. It had been rented by a private kung fu school.

In the evening of January 19, a major fire broke out at the palace, and the main hall of the palace was burnt down and reduced to ashes, and nearby cultural relics were damaged. No people were hurt in the disaster.

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