Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Pride Turns to Fear

Towering inferno rocks Shanghai
The spectacular fire that engulfed a high-rise building in Shanghai on Monday is still counting the losses, currently at 53 dead and 126 injured.

The inferno shocked Shanghai residents, who until then, were proud of having tall buildings in the city as a sign of its rapid development.

Now they are wondering if they will be saved if they live in the upper floors of a high-rise and there's a fire like the one the other day.

Tales of panic and near-death were reported, elderly people scrambling onto bamboo scaffolding waiting to be rescued, while others jumped to their deaths from the 28-storey building. Most of the occupants of the building were retired teachers.

Yesterday eight people were arrested for the fire, apparently unlicensed welders.

Despite the authorities catching the culprits, more needs to be done to regulate buildings in terms of fire-fighting equipment.

Shanghai fire chief Chen Fei admitted the department failed to deploy a new engine capable of fighting fires at heights of more than 300 metres -- and had recently been shown off in a public demonstration.

While some 1,300 firefighters and 122 fire engines took part in fighting the fire, some eyewitnesses pointed out a number of these vehicles were far from the fire and some firefighting teams were even sitting idle.

There are no regulations in Shanghai or China for that matter in making sure tall buildings have sprinklers on each floor to slow the spread of a fire.

The public must also be aware of what to do in the event of a fire, and elderly people should really think twice about living in an upper floor of a tall building.

And as expected, Chinese state media is trying to tone down the coverage of the fire, with the propaganda department demanding that reporters write positive stories and avoid any criticism of the government.

That's why the authorities are putting all the blame on these "unlicensed welders".

But the public isn't fooled that easily; they are questioning the speed at which buildings are being constructed and if they are safe. As homeowners they deserve to know the truth. This is an issue that will resonate for weeks and months to come.

1 comment:

  1. what a shame. just after the expo this tragedy shows the fragility of china's infrastructure. it is only a beautiful and prosperous facade.