At least 18 dead in China karaoke lounge fire

File photo for representation.

A fire tore through a karaoke lounge in southern China today, killing 18 people and injuring another five in a suspected arson case, police and state media said.

The blaze took place after midnight in a three-storey building in Qingyuan City, Guangdong province, and was put out shortly before 1:00 am local time, according to the police.

A preliminary investigation found that the fire was caused by arson, the Qingyuan public security department said on its Weibo social media account.

"The public security authorities are stepping up their investigation," it said.

The police statement did not describe the location of the fire but the official Xinhua news agency said it occurred in a KTV house, or karaoke lounge.

Deadly fires are common in China, where safety regulations are widely flouted and enforcement is often lax. 

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