Shanghai high-rise flats fire leaves dozens dead

The apartment block has continued to smoulder throughout the night

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A fire has destroyed a high-rise building in Shanghai, killing at least 42 people, state media report.

At least 90 others were injured as the blaze tore through a 28-storey block of flats in the Chinese city, Xinhua said.

The building was being renovated when the fire broke out. Chinese TV showed people clinging to scaffolding surrounding the building as they waited to be rescued from the flames.

Firefighters battled for several hours to bring the blaze under control.

Analysis

Many people were trapped as fire engulfed the upper part of the building, beyond the reach of the fire hoses. Helicopters attempted to rescue some from the roof. Eventually firefighters rigged up hoses on top of nearby buildings.

The fire was brought under control after nightfall, and officials said more than 100 people had been rescued.

In Shanghai building regulations are stricter and more rigorously enforced than in other parts of China.

An investigation will need to establish what kind of renovation work was going on when the fire started and why it appears to have spread so quickly through the building.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but witnesses say construction materials caught fire and the flames quickly climbed the scaffolding surrounding the building.

More than 80 fire engines were called to battle the fire, officials say.

It took several hours to bring the blaze - which reportedly started in the early hours of Monday afternoon - under control.

Survivors evacuated

Orange flames could be seen licking the sides of the building, and a thick pall of smoke was visible several miles away as the fire tore through the structure.

Some survivors escaped the inferno by clambering down the scaffolding, while others stumbled over people as they struggled down smoke-filled stairwells.

Start Quote

My son took off his socks and soaked them with water, and we used them to cover our noses”

End Quote Li Xiuyun Fire survivor

Survivor Li Xiuyun, 61, said she cut her feet on shattered glass as she fled from her 16th floor flat with her husband, son and granddaughter.

"My son took off his socks and soaked them with water, and we used them to cover our noses," AFP quoted Ms Li as saying.

TV footage showed soot-smudged people stumbling out of the building, and a rescue worker being lowered on to the roof from a helicopter.

Survivors of the fire have been searching hospitals for missing friends and relatives.

One man who lived in the building said: "All of my relatives and friends have been driving to all the different hospitals. As a family member, what can I do in this situation? How can I calm down?

"I have only one thing to say - I ask the Communist Party to come and help quickly."

Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a building in Shanghai, China, 15 November 2010 Firefighters battled for several hours to bring the blaze under control

Correspondents say many people were trapped in the upper part of the building, and it could be several hours before the full number of people who died is known.

Rescue workers are still combing through the wreckage for survivors.

The building was reportedly home to a number of retired teachers, and municipal officials said it housed 156 families in total.

Shanghai television said survivors had been evacuated to a nearby stadium where rescue officials had set up a command centre.

One of China's commercial hubs, Shanghai has some 20m residents and has seen a frenzy of construction work in recent years.

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