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November 18, 2010

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DNA used to identify 26 blaze bodies

ANOTHER 26 bodies found in the aftermath of the inferno that gutted a downtown apartment block had been identified via DNA by late yesterday, authorities said.

Ten people have still not been identified. The death toll remained at 53.

"I was told to be prepare for the worst," said Liu Yufen, a middle-aged woman.

Two of Liu's relatives were on the list of names of "those who could not be reached."

Early yesterday evening Liu was told that one of them had possibly been identified through DNA.

"But we still do not know which one it is," said Liu.

In a school which has become a center for anxious relatives, crowds surrounded community officials and hugged each other for comfort.

"My daughter is such a beautiful and clever girl," said a man, surnamed Chen, in another relatives' center in a hotel. Chen had been asked to provide a blood sample for the DNA test a day earlier.

The mention of his 24-year-old daughter, who had just returned from studying abroad, reduced Chen to tears.

The family lived in the 10th floor of the building and his daughter came home for a nap when the fire broke out by 2:20pm.

Chen has still not broken the news to the girl's grandparents, saying only that she is in hospital.

Police based in Jing'an District yesterday began work on providing new identity cards to affected residents. Officers said the new cards will be ready within three days.

Meanwhile, all the medical expenditure for patients hospitalized after the blaze will be covered by the city's medical insurance fund and the government, officials from Shanghai Health Bureau said yesterday.

The government will also replace medicines and therapies that residents lost, officials said.

By yesterday afternoon, there were still 70 people hospitalized at eight hospitals. Among them, 15 were in critical condition with 11 depending on respiratory machines.

All the 15 patients, 10 male and five female, were showing stable life signs, said Li Weiping, vice director of Shanghai Health Bureau.

Health experts carried evaluations on other patients to see who is improving and can be discharged soon.

"The next two weeks is the crucial period for all critical patients, most of whom suffered very serious injuries to their respiratory pipes due to smoke inhalation," said Dr Zhu Shihui from Changhai Hospital.

In addition, psychological counseling has been launched at two hospitals and 11 temporary settlement sites for survivors. "Trained professionals have started to give mental counseling to the survivors, especially those with relatives killed in the fire," said Dr Zhang Haiyin from Shanghai Mental Health Center.


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