Shanghai fire survivors hope for missing relatives

14:51, November 16, 2010      

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Firefighters use illuminating facility to search for survivors on the residential building in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, Nov. 16, 2010. The death toll of a big fire that engulfed a high-rise building in downtown Shanghai had risen to 53 by 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, local authorities said. More than 70 people injured are being hospitalized. (Xinhua)

Survivors of Monday's fire at a high-rise apartment building in Shanghai that killed 53 people are desperately seeking their missing family members as rescue operations continued Tuesday.

Shanghai Dragon TV showed footage of an old man staggering into the 28-story building in the city's Jing'an District -- one of the most densely populated areas of a city of nearly 20 million people -- early Tuesday morning to search for his wife.

"I went to the hospital but could not find her. So I came back here with my son to search for her," he said.

The son, his clothes soaked by water, searched for his mother for an hour without finding anything.

"We lived on the 22nd floor. Everything in our house is burnt down. There is still a fire in the bathroom," he said.

Many survivors, some of whom have been moved to temporary resettlement sites, are increasingly nervous as the name list of the injured grows.

Women wept after failing to find the names of their loved ones on the updated list.

Some have visited all the nine hospitals designated to treat the injured and failed to find their relatives.

"They might be in a coma or not able to speak. I hope they are still alive," a young man said.

A netizen called upon people to search for Li Weiwei, a 25-year-old woman who lived in apartment number 2403 after her parents failed to find her in the hospitals and temporary resettlement locations.

"The windows were so hot they exploded," said an injured woman.

She survived by climbing down the burning scaffolding as the building was being renovated when catching fire.

"I would have rather jumped to my death than be consumed by the flames," she said.

More than 100 fire fighters are searching the building for trapped people and bodies, trudging through the thick smoke, charred debris and water.

Some 440 people from 156 households lived in the 85-meter-tall building that was built in 1997.

Government officials are busy compiling lists of the casualties.

Shanghai police have detained four people on suspicion of being partly responsible for the disaster.

An initial investigation has blamed unlicensed welders for the tragedy.



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