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Shanghai high-rise fire

In World News on November 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm

By: Kristen Hegel

On Monday, November 15, a fire broke out in a high-rise apartment building in the business area of Shanghai. According to a witness, building materials caught on fire, which spread to the 28-story building that housed 150 families.

After a deadly apartment fire in Shanghai that killed almost 100, safety has become a main concern among citizens. Photo courtesy of Google images

After six hours, the fire was put out by the efforts of 80 fire trucks. According to authorities, the blaze left roughly 90 dead, over 90 injured, 20 severely injured and 50 still missing. A statement released by the government said that 100 people were rescued, but it is unclear whether that includes the 90 injured victims. Rescue efforts by helicopters were cut short because of the dense layer of smoke, only one person was rescued by helicopter.

“The fire became so big because the scaffolding contained a great amount of flammable materials. Heavy wind was another factor,” Zhu Zhixiang, a Shanghai firefighter, said. Because rescue efforts were hampered, many residents had no other choice than to climb down scaffolding on the side of the building. Firefighters were seen taking bodies from the fire and rubble, “I can smell the smoke and police have pushed onlookers farther away. I saw people taken out and put on stretchers,” Peijin Chen, a local resident and photographer, said.

Most of the survivors were admitted into the hospital for treatment and suffered asphyxia from the fire’s fumes, according to a doctor at Shanghai’s Jing’an Central Hospital. “The smoke was very strong and the glass from the windows was scalding,” Li Xiuyun, a 61-year-old survivor, stated. “My son took off his socks and soaked them with water and we used them to cover our noses. I stumbled on people on the floor when we were walking.”

Eight suspects are currently in custody for the blaze. Among the detained, are welders who were working on installing energy-saving insulation in the building on the 10th floor. The materials used in the renovation are believed to have caused the fire. According to an investigation report, the welders were unqualified and violated safety rules. Shanghai officials are further investigating and questioning the suspects.

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