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FIRE in Chinese kindergarten kills 13 children

BEIJING (AP) _ A fire at a kindergarten dormitory early Tuesday killed 13 children, the oldest just 4 years old, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The blaze in Nanchang, capital of the southern province of Jiangxi, started when a burning coil of mosquito repellent set fire to bedding, Xinhua said. Such coils, whose smoke drives away insects, are widely used throughout China.

The dead included seven boys and six girls from the Jiangxi Radio and Television Arts Kindergarten, all 3 or 4 years old, the report said. There was no indication why children so young were staying in a dormitory.

The report said 304 people were staying at the school, including 30 teachers, when the fire broke out, but that no teacher or caretaker was on duty in the dormitory. An employee had placed three burning mosquito coils in the dormitory Monday night.

Xinhua said 17 children were sleeping in the dorm on the second floor of a three-story building. One boy ran to safety and three were carried out by rescuers.

Most of the victims died of smoke inhalation, Xinhua said.

A man who answered the phone at the Nanchang fire department said he couldn't give out information without official clearance.

Jiangxi was the scene of one of China's worst school disasters when an explosion March 6 leveled a schoolhouse in the village of Fang Lin, killing 42 teachers and students.

The government blamed the explosion on a deranged bomber, but parents said the students had been forced to make fireworks by school administrators.
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