Dozens trapped at top of Hong Kong skyscraper as firefighters tackle blaze

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Hundreds of people were trapped on the rooftop of a Hong Kong skyscraper after a major fire broke out on Wednesday, as firefighters rushed to stage a dramatic rescue and put out the blaze.

At least 13 people were sent to hospital for treatment, according to authorities. Three of them suffered injuries while 10 others were suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.

The fire started in the early afternoon at the World Trade Centre on Gloucester Road in the city’s popular Causeway Bay shopping district, according to a government notice. The 38-story tower houses both offices and a mall.

Authorities said that the fire spread from the building’s bottom two floors, which is occupied by a mall undergoing extensive renovations.

The fire services system had been shut off in the mall area, according to Ng Yau Sheung, Hong Kong Fire Services Department’s senior divisional officer.

“If the system is under repair, it’s possible that the contractor will shut down the area affected,” he said during a news conference Wednesday evening.

Authorities said they were still looking into whether fire safety regulations had been breached.

People wait to be rescued at the World Trade Centre in Hong Kong (AP Photo)

Tens of people trapped in the building had also jammed into narrow areas on an open-air podium on the fifth floor, peering over the edge as they awaited rescue. Firefighters had used an extendable ladder to rescue them.

Firefighters evacuated 770 people from the building, according to Ng, while 40 others had self-evacuated.

Preliminary investigations by the police suggested that the fire had broken out in the electrical switch room located on the first floor of the shopping mall, before spreading to the scaffolding that surrounded part of the building, according to local newspaper, South China Morning Post.

The fire was upgraded to a level three incident, according to a police notice. Fires are graded on a scale of one to five, with five being the most severe.

Authorities said the fire was under control by around 306pm and was largely put out by 4.30pm.

The fire services department deployed 176 firefighters to the site. Two breathing apparatus teams and two water jets were mobilised to help fight the blaze, police said.

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