18 dead in China karaoke lounge fire, arson suspect detained

A fire tore through a karaoke lounge in southern China on Tuesday, killing 18 people and injuring another five, as authorities arrested an arson suspect who had reportedly blocked the entrance with a motorcycle. The fire started after midnight in a three-storey building in Yingde, a town within Qingyuan City in Guangdong province, and was put out shortly before 1:00 am local time, according to the police.

A preliminary investigation found that it was caused by arson, the Qingyuan public security department said on its Weibo social media account. The suspect got into an argument, then used a motorcycle to block the building's door and lit the fire, state broadcaster CCTV said, adding that he was on the lam.

Police said the suspect was captured in a village district, shortly after authorities offered a 200,000 yuan ($32,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of a man identified as a 32-year-old with burn marks on his hips. Unverified videos from the scene posted by local media show flames leaping from the building on a tree-lined street at night, with fire trucks and a crowd of onlookers on the road. The five injured people are receiving treatment in a hospital, state TV said.

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