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November 23, 2010

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Blaze families call for homes

SHANGHAI residents made homeless by the blaze that swept through a high-rise last week, killing at least 58 people, have called on the city to move quickly in arranging new housing for them.

Chen Weizhong, who lost his 24-year-old daughter, Chen Yi, in the fire on Jiaozhou Road, Jing'an District, said he and his wife want permanent accommodation sorted out before compensation negotiations begin.

"I hope the government will take firm action for all the hurt families," Chen said yesterday. "And I hope they won't disappoint us again."

Chen is deep in grief at the loss of his daughter. "She was such an angel and was everything to me," he said.

Chen said he wants his new home to be in Jing'an, but the most important thing is information - if only in draft form - of what arrangements will be made.

"Even if these are in rough form, we will understand," Chen added. "I know the government is busy, but we still trust them."

Following large-scale mourning over the weekend, families of the victims of the blaze want details of what the government will do, and when, in terms of housing and compensation.

Officials say plans will be unveiled as soon as possible.

"A timetable could give us hope," said Lan Fan, a professor from Shanghai University who lost manuscripts of unpublished work in the flames.

Lan said compensation plans could be worked out gradually, but housing issues should be resolved quickly.

"Home makes people feel safe and secure and it needs to be settled first," Lan said.

He also hoped that psychological counselling currently being offered could become a long-term commitment.

Meanwhile, families expressed hopes that the gutted high-rise would be demolished and a fire museum or memorial built on the site.


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