Shanghai fire probe finds bogus deals, cut corners

In this Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010 photo, people place flowers and wreaths near an apartment building

SHANGHAI—Investigators probing a fire that destroyed a downtown Shanghai high-rise apartment, killing at least 53 people, say an energy-saving project that used illegal contracts, unsafe materials and unqualified workers is mainly to blame.

The blaze that gutted the 28-story building Monday also left 70 people injured and dozens more unaccounted for, and prompted a belated crackdown on illegal construction work and lax fire precautions.

Luo Lin, head of China’s work safety agency, said Thursday that highly flammable insulation used to help buildings meet new energy standards, illegal subcontracting and lax safety precautions were all to blame for the disaster.

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