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May 2, 2014

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Firefighters die in fall from 13th floor

TWO young firefighters died after falling from the 13th floor of a downtown apartment block in Shanghai yesterday when an explosion rocked the building.

The blast blew them out of a window and they fell onto a platform on the second floor of the building on Longwu Road in Xuhui District.

Qian Lingyun, 23, and Liu Jie, 20, were rushed to hospital but later died from their injuries, the city’s Fire Control Bureau said.

Another firefighter injured during the blaze, which had broken out in the 13th-floor apartment around 2pm, is undergoing treatment for his injuries at the Shanghai No. 6 People’s Hospital.

It was believed there was no one else in the apartment at the time.

Witnesses said the firefighters who died were holding onto each other as they were thrown from the window by the sudden explosion.

Thick black smoke could be seen pouring from the apartment windows.

The two men joined the fire service in December 2012 and served with the Xuhui District bureau.

A resident in the building told Shanghai Daily that their colleagues were in tears after the incident.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Some neighbors in the building said there were several different groups of tenants squeezed into the apartment.

Pictures aired on a local TV station showed at least three double bunk beds inside the three-roomed apartment. What was left of a moped could be seen among the debris while another two were parked in the corridor outside.

Firefighters said there were a number of electrical items plugged into the apartment’s sockets and a lot of electric wiring in all three rooms.

Group rentals are a popular way to minimize living expenses, but have been banned by city authorities on the grounds of safety.

There have been a number of campaigns to crack down on group renting, but the practice is still widespread.

Thousands of messages of sympathy were posted online after the fire authority announced the deaths on its microblog. There were also angry posts condemning the owner of the apartment and those who had rented it.

“The group leasers took no care of their own safety and even made two young firefighters sacrifice their lives for them,” was a typical comment.

In February, two firefighters died when a building collapsed as they were tackling a blaze in a factory in Baoshan District.


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