Karaoke Bar Blast Kills 25 in Northern China

A blast ripped through a karaoke parlor and bath house in northeast China, killing 25 people and injuring 33 others, state media reported Thursday.

Xinhua News Agency said the cause of the Wednesday night blast in Tianshifu township in Liaoning province was being investigated.

Several employees and the wife of the parlor owner, who was killed, were being questioned, it said, without saying if they were suspects.

Xinhua initially put the death toll at five, but said 25 bodies were found when rescuers had finished clearing away debris from the blast.

China has suffered a string of blasts, fires and accidents in shopping malls, movie theaters and other public places despite repeated government promises to improve safety. Many are blamed on lax safety procedures and negligence.

In 2005, a fire in an illegally run bar in the southern city of Zhongshan killed 26 people. Local officials said the bar lacked fire extinguishers and its emergency exit was too narrow.

In China's worst recent nightclub disaster, a fire blamed on a welding accident tore through a disco in the central city of Luoyang in December 2000, killing 309 people.

Local reports at the time said the building had failed 18 safety checks in two years.