Correction: We first reported that the death toll had risen to 79, relying on a Guardian article and an AP press report, however that figure is incorrect. It seems that when news came out that 26 dead had their identities confirmed via DNA testing, several media mistook that to be an additional 26 deaths confirmed. The 26 confirmed identities are part of the 53 who died in the fire which we had noted in our original report below. The death toll currently stands at 53 lives.
Here’s the latest roundup of information that’s surfaced on the fire:
- Eight welders, a number of whom were unlicensed, have been detained under suspicion of sparking Monday’s fire on the 10th floor of the building during an “energy saving” renovation project. Illegal multiple sub-contracting and inadequate supervision of the renovation project, said Luo Lin, the head of the fire cause investigation is also to blame. “It was the illegal and irregular construction that caused this terrible accident, which should not have happened and could have been completely avoided,” Luo said.
- China has called for a nation-wide overhaul of fire-safety procedures, including the removal fire hazards, education of the public, and implementation of strict accountability. Shanghai Daily reports that any building not meeting safety standards will be shut down, but we’re not rejoicing over that news just yet. Wouldn’t that be nearly all of them? We’ll believe it when we see it. And nobody seems to be talking about how embarrassing this is coming only ten days after China’s “Fire Prevention Day” last Tuesday, where the entire country underwent drills, specifically targeting densely populated urban areas.
- Some citizens complain that emergency response was delayed on Monday, with the first fire engines arriving on scene 25 minutes after the fire started. Let us point out, however, that we praise the fire fighters on scene for dealing with an array of unforeseen difficulties. Scaffolding lined with mesh laid with bamboo flooring and polyurethane foaming, a type of insulation material allowed the fire to spread extremely quickly. Steel security doors hindered attempted rescues. The director of the Fire Control Bureau had this to say: “When we arrived, the whole building was burning just like a blocked chimney, and it was not easy for us to get to the fire.”
- The fire has raised deep concerns about construction safety standards in China. Construction sites in Jing’an have been closed for the time being.
- Official reports put 1,300 firefighters and 122 fire engines on scene the day of the fire.
- 156 households and 440 people occupied in the building, which was opened to residents in 1998. The official number of deaths is 53 and the authorities have confirmed the identities of 26 dead via DNA tests.
- Yesterday at 1pm, the government released these official figures on the injured: There were a total of 126 wounded. 70 were hospitalized (male 33, female 37; the oldest was 85 years old, the youngest 3 years old; victims 50 years old and older accounted for 64.3%) and 15 were discharged after treatment. There are still 15 critically ill patients (10 men, 5 women.) They are suffering mainly from asphyxiation. Many of the elderly victims also had varying degrees of chronic diseases to begin with.
- Still, authorities have refused to release an estimated “number missing.” The Shanghai municipal bureau of civil affairs, which is housing the survivors at a school in Jing’an, reports that as of Tuesday more than 40 people could not be reached by families.
- Victims of the fire, who were mostly uninsured, will have their medical expenses paid for by the government, though they may be left to fend for themselves for home insurance.
- The Shanghai Charity Foundation has received over 1.1 million yuan in donations, 500,000 of which they handed out to victims yesterday morning. You can also help donate by attending BEAN’s drinks fundraiser for the fire victims this Saturday.
For more Shanghaiist coverage of the fire click here.