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(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-02-17 07:52

Explanation needed for tragedy

The news of the blaze in the Mandarin Oriental hotel is indeed shocking, because it was occupied during the Beijing Olympics.

What really happened, and why the fire prevention systems weren't effective, are questions that need an immediate and clear explanation of related authorities.

It was a tragedy, because of the death of a fire fighter. In China and other countries, those brave and generous heroes seldom fail to accomplish their duty in a heroic way.

I have lived in Beijing since 1991 and witnessed the progress made in fire prevention.

According to my experience, not in a single but in many places I have lived, brass fittings are obviously always kept locked: they are supposed to be operated only by firefighters, and are useless unless the water pipes are not activated. But portable fire extinguishers which can be used by residents are almost always easily available, in most of Beijing buildings, and are not "kept locked" at all.

In the compound where I live now, there are even fire extinguishers in the garden, aside the dustbins.

What seems "plausible" to that reader who sent a letter to China Daily on Feb 12, "namely the lack of responsible supervision from higher levels", is clearly an exaggeration if referring to the majority of Beijing buildings.

But the sad case of a blaze in a hotel constructed in connection with a masterpiece designed by one of the most famous international architects, remains to be explained.

Claudio Cervini

via e-mail

Try to make fireworks safer

Comment on Liu Shinan's column "Fireworks ban will kill a tradition" (China Daily, Feb 17)

I read somewhere that during the Olympics, some of the fireworks for the ceremony were specially designed so that they completely evaporated in the air afterwards, thus preventing sparks from falling to earth and causing a fire.

Instead of trying to ban fireworks, why can't the Chinese manufacturers mandate firework makers to innovate and create fireproof fireworks? Chinese people invented the fireworks, so I am sure they can figure out ways to further modify their invention to make it safer.

John

on China Daily website

Lighting fireworks has long been a Chinese tradition to celebrate festivals. It is hard to eradicate in the name of eliminating potential perils. After all, it depends on ourselves to make fireworks secure.

We should protect our heritage and traditions.

Frank

on China Daily website

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(China Daily 02/17/2009 page9)