Hundreds of people were trapped after a massive fire broke out on the roof of Hong Kong's World Trade Centre in the bustling commercial and shopping district of Causeway Bay on Wednesday morning, the government said. At least 13 people have reportedly been injured and more are expected, with firefighters later evacuating over 1,200 by using several emergency ladders.
The deadly fire was directed at the right time by people who alerted the building authorities after which firefighters were called in for help. The blaze has been upgraded to a level 3 incident on a scale of one to five.
The fire broke out at the 39th floor of the skyscraper on Wednesday around 12:37 pm local time during the lunchtime rush and forced many to seek safety on the top floor. According to the South China Morning Post, the fire broke out in an electrical switch room before ripping through the scaffolding of the building, which houses both offices and a shopping center.
Police said about 100 people moved from a restaurant to a podium on the 39th floor or the roof when the fire broke out and smoke filled the dining area, according to local broadcaster RTHK. Multiple video on social media show dozens of people, including the elderly, waiting for evacuation at an open-air area on the fifth floor, as firefighters continue to struggle.
A police officer at the scene told local reporters that the number of people trapped on the rooftop are not less than 350 and said another 100 people were waiting to be rescued on a platform on the fifth floor of the building. The smoke also spread to a buffet restaurant in the building, and staff handed out tissues for affected customers, as they panicked for help.
What Caused the Fire
The area has been cordoned off by firefighters. No casualty has been reported it but at least one person has been seriously wounded in the blaze. The exact cause of the fire is not yet known but it is understood that the fire broke out after a fault in the electrical room. Firefighters have mobilized two breathing apparatus teams and two water jets to help fight the fire, police said.
A Facebook user who was rescued after hours of struggle said that he was trapped with around 100 people in the open area on the fifth level. The man had to be carried down by a firefighter on a ladder an hour after the fire broke out.
Another woman in her 60s who was semi-conscious in hospital with breathing difficulties, was also rescued after a long struggle. Most people injured were suffering the effects of smoke inhalation.
According to the Information Services Department, the fire was mostly put out by 4.30pm. A police spokesman said at 5 pm that more than 1,250 people, including those trapped on the rooftop, had been evacuated from the building.
Police said that, as of 3.15 pm, one man and six women, aged 31 to 72, had been taken to hospital with smoke inhalation. They were being treated at Ruttonjee Hospital in Wan Chai, Pamela Youde Nethersole Hospital in Chai Wan or Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam.
Another woman, 52, suffered leg injuries and was treated at Queen Mary Hospital.