Hong Kong firefighters battle warehouse blaze in densely packed Kowloon

A firefighter walks next to a blaze at a warehouse in the city's bustling Kowloon district, in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, March 24, 2023. - Reuters

HONG KONG, March 24 (Reuters): Hong Kong firefighters battled on Friday to control a blaze at a warehouse in the city's bustling Kowloon district, as yellow smoke billowed from windows and 1,600 people evacuated nearby buildings, although there were no reports of casualties yet.

Authorities in the Asian financial hub upgraded the fire to No 3 from No 1 at 2 p.m. (0600 GMT), on a scale where 5 is the highest, followed by a disaster alert.

"Members of the public affected by the smoke and unusual odour carried by the wind are advised to close their doors and windows and stay calm," the government said in a statement.

The warehouse is owned by China Resources Group but it was not immediately clear what was being stored there.

The state-owned company, which runs businesses from healthcare to consumer products such as beer, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A Reuters witness said the yellow smoke emanating from the building had a chemical smell but was not able to identify it.

Cable Television said about 1,600 people from nearby residential schools and buildings needed to be evacuated.

A 39-year-old mother came to pick up her nine-year-old son as he waited alone, with police officers nearby.

"It's very smelly," said the woman, who gave only her surname, Lee. "I am worried whether there are toxins affecting my child's health." - Reuters

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