Chinese gambler kills wife after losing 'millions'

HONG KONG - A mainland Chinese man who lost big money while gambling went berserk, stabbing his wife repeatedly and setting a fire that trapped several people inside their apartment in Macau, officials and newspapers said on Wednesday. The woman died after the attack on Tuesday, but firefighters saved three people while two others escaped, Macau fire department spokesman Iu Chong Hin told The Associated Press by telephone. Firefighters also caught the 48-year-old man, identified by his surname Chen, in the apartment and handed him over to police. Hong Kong's Ming Pao Daily News reported police have charged him with murder and arson. The wife's body was burned, Mr Iu said, but he could not confirm Hong Kong media reports that she had been stabbed more than 20 times. He said the cause of death still wasn't clear. The attack reportedly occurred when Chen and his wife were arguing about his gambling losses. News reports said Chen lost about 6 million dollars at casino tables in Macau. They did not specify whether the currency was Hong Kong dollars or US dollars - which are worth nearly eight times more (HK$4.6 = S$1). But most Macau gambling is in Hong Kong dollars or the local currency, the pataca. Chen blocked the front door with a cabinet before setting the eighth-floor apartment on fire so no one could get out, Sing Tao Daily reported. Mr Iu said two of the wife's sisters were trapped inside, along with one of the wife's friends, a maid and the suspect's adopted daughter. Media reports said at least two people were injured. A woman who answered the phone at Macau's Public Security Police Force said no one was immediately available for comment. Macau thrives on its casino industry. Formerly a Portuguese colony, it was returned to China in 1999 and lies just 64km west of Hong Kong. -- AP