Hundreds of people were rescued from the roof of a 38-story skyscraper in Hong Kong after being trapped for hours by a fire
- Hundreds of people were rescued from the roof of a
Hong Kongskyscraper after they were trapped by fire.
- 13 people were taken to hospital following the blaze at the 38-story World Trade Centre.
Emergency workers have rescued hundreds of people from the roof of a 38-story skyscraper in Hong Kong after they were trapped for hours by a fire.
More than 300 people took refuge on the roof of the World Trade Centre after a fire broke out on the first floor of the building, the Associated Press reported. The blaze was later brought under control.
The South China Morning Post reported that 13 people were taken to hospital. One of them, a woman in her 60's, is said to be in a critical condition, according to the paper.
In an evening press conference, covered by the SCMP, Ng Ya-sheung, senior divisional officer for the fire department said that automatic sprinklers and alarm systems were disabled between the first and fifth floor while renovation work was underway.
However, these were operational in the rest of the building, Ng said.
The fire is believed to have begun in a utility room around 12.30pm local time before spreading to nearby scaffolding, various media reported.
The SCMP, citing a police spokesman, reported that in total 770 people, including those trapped on the roof, had been led from the building. Earlier reports suggested more than 1,000 people had been evacuated.
Firefighters also used ladders and breathing apparatus to reach dozens of people, including children and the elderly, trapped on a fifth story podium, AP reported.
The World Trade Centre is situated in Hong Kong's busy Causeway Bay commercial district. It hosts restaurants, offices and a mall.
Hong Kong's Information Services Department said that the fire was mostly extinguished by 4.30pm, the SCMP reported.
A construction worker based on the third floor told the paper that the work also meant that two of the building's four escalators were also out of action at the time the blaze started.
A woman rescued from the fifth floor told local broadcaster RTHK that thick smoke had prevented her group from descending all the way down the stairs, forcing them onto the fifth floor podium.
"Some people already left so we just followed them and then when we got to the fifth floor, we found that the smoke was too strong and we could not go forward. Someone said there is an open area so we just went out and waited on the platform," she said, according to RTHK.
Some occupants managed to make their own way down from the roof of the building through a stairwell that was clear of smoke, according to the SCMP, while the remainder were evacuated after waiting over two and a half hours.
Hong Kong city authorities – who use a grading system between one and five to assess the severity of incidents, with five the most severe – said the fire was rated as a level three incident.
City authorities confirmed that two high-powered water hoses were deployed to battle the flames, and a total of 176 firefighters attended the blaze, per AP.
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