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Shanghai high-rise fire death toll rises to 12

Shanghai government late tonight raised the death toll at this afternoon's high-rise building fire to 12. The fire, which gutted a 28-story apartment building in downtown Jing'an District, was brought under control at 7pm after five hours of frenzied efforts to put it down.

Firefighters entered the building to search for residents trapped in the building after the fire was put out. Victims were being treated at several local hospitals, most at Shanghai Jing'an Central Hospital.

The initial reports put the death toll at eight.

The building at the intersection of Jiaozhou Road and Yuyao Road in Jing'an District was being renovated when it caught fire at about 2pm, local authorities said at a press conference.

Victims hung themselves out on the scaffoldings which cover the whole building for a face-lift. The scaffolds were blamed for the fast spread of the fire.

More than 10 residents rushed to the roof and waved frantically at helicopters which had difficulty to land and to maneuver amid high-rises.

Most of the injured were not burned seriously but had inhaled too much smoke, said the hospital staff.

Police cordoned off the area around the building and traffic on nearby roads was affected.

Influenced by the fire, people in nearby buildings were evacuated and power supply was switched off.

People in buildings a little further away can still feel the heat of the blaze as the windows became too hot to touch.

Firefighting has always troubled Shanghai, a city with about 15,000 skyscrapers. Firefighters carried engines to nearby buildings to shoot water at the burning high-rise, which is known as Teachers Apartments and houses 156 families. Many residents are retired teachers.

Ambulances also carried doctors to the site for emergency treatment. Residents were given rescue breaths on site.

The cause of the fire is so far unknown, but a witness said he saw some construction materials caught fire first and then the fire climbed up onto the scaffold.


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