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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

Chief Executive Carrie Lam today inspected the scene of a fatal fire that occurred on Canton Road, Yau Ma Tei last night in which seven people died.

Ten people have been hospitalised. Seven are in a critical condition and one is in a serious condition.

“I am deeply saddened by the heavy casualties and loss of lives caused by the fire. I extend my deepest condolences to the injured and the families of the deceased.

“The Social Welfare Department and the Home Affairs Department will render all necessary assistance to them,” Mrs Lam said.

As the casualties are ethnic minorities, the Home Affairs Department will asertain their needs through organisations dedicated to providing support services for them and will arrange appropriate counselling services.

The Yau Tsim Mong District Office will provide assistance to families of the deceased and injured in their applications for the Emergency Relief Fund or the Special Aid Fund, and liaise on their behalf with various assistance funds operated by other charitable organisations.

Social Welfare Department medical social workers have proactively contacted family members of the deceased and injured to render emotional support and other assistance. The district’s Integrated Family Service Centre caseworkers will reach out to the affected residents to provide welfare services and assistance.

The fire broke out in a unit of an old single-staircase residential building. According to Fire Services Department (FSD) records, the unit is not a licensed restaurant or other licensed premises.

The department has set up a dedicated team to investigate the fire and the related severe casualties. The Buildings Department (BD), which will work with the investigation team, has confirmed after an inspection that the overall structure of the building is safe.

The Chief Executive noted: “The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government attaches great importance to fire safety in buildings, in particular those aged buildings with fire safety facilities not up to the current standard.

“We hope to enhance fire safety in buildings and improve the living environment of residents through urban renewal and building rehabilitation. At the same time, the FSD and the BD will inspect old buildings to request property owners or occupants to rectify irregularities, providing necessary assistance in the process.”

Mrs Lam added that in light of the risks exposed by the fire, she has asked the two departments to step up inspections to eliminate serious fire safety threats to safeguard people’s lives and property.

The FSD and the BD will embark on an exercise with a target to complete the inspection of some 2,500 domestic or composite buildings that are aged 60 or above by the end of this year, with special attention to be paid to the condition of the buildings’ common means of escape and if there are fire hazards.

The FSD will also reach out to ethnic minorities and relevant groups to learn more about the places where they hold religious and cultural activities and inspect these places as well as enhance the users’ fire safety knowledge.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News