The police did not identify a suspect or motive, nor did they say how many of the dead were found inside the bar. Often karaoke bars in China feature small rooms padded with carpet, and at least some of the dead may have been trapped in such rooms.
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The person believed to have started the fire had been in a quarrel beforehand and used a motorbike to block the only entrance to the karaoke club, then lit the fire at the door, a reporter for CCTV, the state-run broadcaster, said in an online report that did not cite the source of the account.
The China News Service, a state-run news agency, said that the police in Qingyuan — an industrial and commercial center — had blocked off roads to catch the person responsible.
The deadly fire is likely to prompt another round of calls from the Chinese government to tighten up safety, especially in the crowded fringes of cities and industrial zones where fires often break out.
After a fire roared through an apartment on the outskirts of Beijing in November, killing 19 people, the city intensified a program to expel migrant workers who live in such areas, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.