China's police chief calls for thorough investigation on cause of Shanghai high-rise fire

09:59, November 16, 2010      

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Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu early Tuesday morning called for a thorough investigation into the cause of Monday's fatal fire in a downtown Shanghai residential building.

People responsible for the accident, which had claimed 42 lives by 10 p.m. Monday, would be punished in accordance with laws, Meng said.

He made the remarks at a meeting on handling the aftermath of the accident.

He urged local authorities to make all-out efforts in searching for and rescuing survivors, carefully count casualties and missing people, and make sure the injured get the best treatment on time.

He said local government should do relief work household by household, soothing the feelings of fire-affected people.

Meng said information related to the fire, including casualties, searching results, treatment of the injured and property losses, should be made public timely and accurately.

He said since it's a period with high incidence of fires, lessons should be learnt to prevent similar accidents from occurring. He urged local governments and relevant departments to carry out safety inspections, eliminating fire risks.

Meng arrived in Shanghai at wee hours Tuesday to guide rescue and relief work. He announced to set up an investigation team under the State Council, or China's Cabinet.

He also went to the Ruijin Hospital, one of the nine hospitals receiving injured people in the fire, to visit the injured who are being treated.

The 28-story building at the intersection of Jiaozhou Road and Yuyao Road in Jing'an District, a densely-populated area in Shanghai, was being renovated when it caught fire at about 2:15 p.m. Monday.

The fire was mostly extinguished at 6:30 p.m. after local authorities dispatched 25 fire units and more than 100 fire engines to the scene. Helicopters were sent to rescue people trapped on the roof.

The cause of the fire was as yet unknown, but a witness said he saw construction materials burning before the fire climbed up the scaffolding and quickly spread.

Yu Zhengsheng, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, urged at an emergent meeting called Monday evening to find out the cause as soon as possible.

Jing'an District government has arranged food and accommodation for fire-affected residents in nearby hotels.

Residents said the building, built in the 1990s, housed mainly teachers from several schools in Jing'an District, many of whom were retired.



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