Share Story

Related News

Home » Metro

49 die in downtown high-rise inferno

AT least 49 people have been killed by 7 am today when an inferno gutted a downtown 28-floor residential building yesterday afternoon, the Shanghai government said this morning at 8 am.

The number of injured people is not immediately known. But nearby hospitals have received more than 100 rescued people.

The blaze was mostly extinguished at 6:30pm, the statement from the municipal publicity department said.

Firefighters were still searching for survivors in the early hours of this morning.

More than 100 people were evacuated from the high-rise and two nearby blocks in Jing'an District.

The fire, the worst in the city in recent years, took more than four hours to extinguish as crews from 25 fire brigades with 61 fire engines attended the scene.

The injured were rushed to at least four hospitals across the city.

Earlier, 10 deaths were confirmed at Changzheng Hospital, while another eigh t were reported earlier at Jing'an District Center Hospital.

Most of the injured were not badly burned, but suffering from smoke inhalation, according to the hospitals.
The fire broke out at 2:15pm on the lower part of the building, at the intersection of Yuyao Road and Jiaozhou Road. The block was covered in scaffolding as it was undergoing a facelift.

The fire soon spread to almost all the floors, with heavy smoke, assisted by winds, rising high into the sky and visible about 15 kilometers away, witnesses said.

Gas explosions and the crack of breaking glass were heard inside.

A witness, surnamed Zhen, told Shanghai Daily that people were trapped inside, and that he had heard a pregnant woman pleading for help on the telephone. "Sister, sister, help me, fast," the desperate woman is reported to have screamed.

The building was home to more than 200 households, many of whom are retired teachers. The complex was built about 10 years ago.

Residents clambered out on to the scaffolding at around 3pm, as other escape options disappeared. Some elderly people were seen looking out of their windows hopelessly.

The upper half of the building, beyond the reach of fire appliances, was engulfed by flames.

When one person on the scaffolding was plucked to safety by firefighters in a ladder truck, the crowd gathered below began cheering and applauding.

Firefighters carried the injured on their backs, many of whom had burned hair and clothes.

Some residents were seen on top of the building, waving at three rescue helicopters hovering above. However, billowing smoke made it impossible for them to get close enough to attempt a rescue.

By 6:30pm the main body of the fire had been extinguished. Firefighters had entered the corridors for further search and rescue.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, said the authorities.

Some sources said the wooden scaffolding outside was to blame for the fire spreading quickly.

Qiu Jingshu, 38, a migrant worker who was working on the 18th floor's scaffolding when the fire started, said welding sparks from a neighboring building blew over and ignited the plastic foam on the scaffolding.

"We had tried to put out the blaze, but the fire was so big and spread so quickly that we could barely escape ourselves," Qiu said. "The smoke almost choked me."

Another worker who was on the building next to the fire said the three buildings in the complex have been undergoing redecoration work for a month.

Residents of the two apartment buildings next to the blaze were evacuated.

They reported that the heat from the blaze opposite made their windows too hot to touch.

Accommodation for those evacuated has been arranged in nearby hotels, inns and a school.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号