Home International Scores evacuated as fire engulfs Hong Kong skyscraper

Scores evacuated as fire engulfs Hong Kong skyscraper

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About 170 people in the heart of Hong Kong were evacuated overnight when a fire broke out in building, billed as a 42-storey ‘harbour-side icon’ in the making.

A fire burns at a 42-storey high-rise building under construction in the Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong on March 3, 2023. The building is intended to house the historic Mariners’ Club and a new hotel being developed by the Empire Group. Picture: Peter PARKS / AFP

HONG KONG – About 170 people were evacuated from a Hong Kong shopping area after a fire broke out in a skyscraper late on Thursday night, the government said.

Firefighters battled the blaze at a redevelopment project in the Tsim Sha Tsui district throughout the early hours of Friday, with the flames visible from the other side of Victoria Harbour.

Several upper floors of the building were engulfed in fire, according to Reuters witnesses, and blazing falling debris, including bamboo scaffolding, sparked smaller fires in adjacent structures.

Keung Sai-ming, Hong Kong’s deputy chief fire officer, told reporters that 250 firefighters and rescue workers battled the blaze for the entire night before it was extinguished at about 8am local time.

He said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

Firefighters battled a blaze in a skyscraper construction in the Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong on March 3, 2023. Picture: Peter PARKS / AFP

The building was billed as a 42-storey “harbour-side icon” in the making, intended to house the historic Mariners’ Club and a new hotel, according to the website of its developer, the Empire Group.

The Mariners Club opened in 1967 to provide affordable accommodation to seafarers, and was popular among maritime workers passing through Hong Kong.

The HK$6 billion redevelopment project was given the green light in 2019 and was originally expected to be completed in the first half of this year, according to local media

The scorched skyscraper in the heart of a historic Hong Kong shopping and tourist district was left scorched, with authorities saying the blaze had been largely extinguished.

An AFP journalist at the scene saw blackened concrete walls and the tattered remains of bamboo-and-tarpaulin scaffolding around the building on Friday morning, as municipal workers swept roads clean of debris.

A major section of the neighbourhood’s Nathan Road thoroughfare – one of Hong Kong’s main transport lifelines – had been closed, the authorities said, causing traffic disruptions.

No casualties were reported with two people treated for minor injuries, the fire department said.

The flames were first spotted near scaffolding at the top of the building on Thursday night and sent sending sparks and embers raining down on to neighbouring streets.

Around an hour later, the fire had spread down the length of the building and was approaching street level, where hundreds of onlookers had gathered.

Japanese tourist Tosho Sai, who was staying in a nearby building, said a security guard told everyone on his floor to leave after a window in the unit next door was hit by embers.

A French business traveller passing by the site said he saw “lots of debris falling” from the tower.

An acrid smell permeated the air, an AFP reporter on the scene said.

Flames were seen on the roof of an office tower across the street at about 3:30am, prompting fears of a wider inferno in the densely built area.

On Friday, senior fire department official Keung Sai-ming said embers had sparked two fires on the roofs of nearby buildings, but they were quickly extinguished.

The blaze in the skyscraper in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, was seen across Victoria harbour in the early hours of March 3, 2023. Picture: Peter PARKS / AFP

“Last night there were strong winds, which blew the flames toward five nearby buildings,” he said.

Empire Group did not immediately respond to Reuter’s and AFP’s requests for comment.

The skyscraper that caught fire in Tsim Sha Tsui inHong Kong, China, on March 3, 2023. A major section of the neighbourhood’s Nathan Road thoroughfare – one of Hong Kong’s main transport lifelines – had to be closed for safety and clean-up operations, the authorities said, causing traffic disruptions. Picture: Tyrone Siu / REUTERS

REUTERS and AFP

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