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terça-feira, 16 de novembro de 2010

#news Eight arrested after 53 die in Shanghai apartment fire


SHANGHAI POLICE have arrested eight people believed to be behind a fire that killed 53 people at a high-rise apartment that was under renovation. The government’s poor handling of the disaster has angered many in China’s financial capital.

According to a report on the local government website, four welders were guilty of using their equipment badly, which sparked the blaze seen across the city.

The 28-storey building was under renovation when it went up in flames; the fire broke out on the north side of the 10th floor.

“The fire grew so big because the scaffolding contained a lot of flammable materials,” Zhu Zhixiang, a Shanghai firefighter, told state broadcaster CCTV.

Shanghai, a city of more than 20 million people and the venue of the recent World Expo, has been host to a construction frenzy in recent years, ranging from high-rises that dot its skyline to new subway lines, highways and airport upgrades. However, unsafe building work remains a chronic problem in China.

Firefighters rescued more than 100 residents from the burning building. The building housed 150 families, the news agency said.

Frustration has been growing among relatives seeking answers to how such a tragedy could happen in a city like Shanghai, a wealthy city that is one of the country’s best-run urban centres.

Shanghai fire chief Chen Fei said 200 firefighters went into the burning building. Once the scaffolding and nylon nets caught fire, the flames spread quickly, especially because it was a windy day.

Survivors were taken to nine Shanghai hospitals, where relatives sought their loved ones.

Local authorities have tried to determine the number of residents who were actually at home in the building when the fire broke out and how many remain missing, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Police investigating the disaster said eight people had been detained, but did not identify them.

It is the worst Chinese fire since 53 people died in a supermarket fire in Jilin province in northeast China in 2003.

According to Shanghai’s fire chief, the fire started on the 10th floor and spread quickly to scaffolding and nylon nets. The inferno sent black smoke billowing across the city’s skyline.

As well as the 53 deaths, more than 70 people suffered smoke inhalation. Many were rushed to hospitals. These were most elderly and suffering from smoke inhalation.


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