Fire at Hong Kong’s New Lucky House kills at least 5, injures 35

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At least five people were killed and 35 others injured after a fire broke out at a Hong Kong residential and commercial building on Wednesday morning.

Police at 11.30am said the injured had been taken to five hospitals.

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A government spokeswoman said five women among the group sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Queen Mary Hospital were in critical conditions.

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu before noon expressed his deepest condolences to the victims and their families over the fire that earlier started at the 16-storey New Lucky House, which includes 240 flats.

Detectives from the force’s Kowloon West regional crime unit are investigating whether the fire was the result of suspicious circumstances.

Firefighters rushed to the scene on Jordan Road after receiving a call at 7.53am.

People were seen being rescued from Power Gymnasium on the building’s first floor, with police and firefighters hours later breaking into dozens of flats to search for any trapped tenants.

A source familiar with the case said some of the flats contained five to six subdivided units each.

The blaze has been listed as a No 3 alarm fire. In Hong Kong, fires are rated on a scale of one to five according to their seriousness.

Police said at 10.55am that two women and three men had died due to the fire.

The fire was brought under control about an hour after the report came through, authorities said.

Another source said police received multiple reports claiming the Power Gymnasium on the first floor had caught fire, but noted officers would need to investigate further before confirming where the blaze started.

“The gym was reportedly operating when the fire broke out, but it remains uncertain whether there were any clients inside at the time,” he said.

The insider said some residents had passed out in the building’s public areas due to smoke inhalation before they were rescued by emergency personnel.

The blaze started on a lower floor of the building, causing dense smoke to fill the staircases and public corridors and potentially contributing to the number of victims, he added.

“Some residents became trapped in the smoke-filled staircases and needed assistance from firefighters who led them to safety,” he said.

Some building tenants wait for rescue after being forced to evacuate to the roof. Photo: Jelly Tse
Authorities have said 35 people have been sent to hospitals after the fire. Photo: Jelly Tse
Firefighters rushed to the scene on Jordan Road after receiving a call at 7.53am. Photo: Jelly Tse

The source also said emergency personnel had used a fire engine’s extendable ladder for multiple trips to rescue tenants signalling for help by waving towels.

City leader Lee’s office said he had instructed the Hospital Authority to focus on saving the injured, as police and firefighters investigated the fire’s cause. Other departments would also work to assist affected residents, it added.

Chief Secretary Chan Kwok-ki, the city’s No 2 official, told reporters that he was saddened to learn of the fire’s many deaths and injuries, saying authorities attached importance to the incident and would investigate.

“The government is very concerned about major disasters such as this, the police and Fire Services Department will conduct an in-depth investigation of the cause of the fire and how to prevent similar tragedies from happening,” he said.

The government has set up a temporary shelter at Henry G Leong Yaumatei Community Centre for residents in need.

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A tenant living on the building’s fourth floor told local media the sound of her fire alarm had woken her up to a room filled with thick smoke, leaving her struggling to see.

“I ran down the stairs to escape, but realised the fire was even worse,” she said.

She added that the flames forced her to rush up to a higher floor and wait for rescue.

Some of those evacuated waited at the scene to receive further assistance. A young lady was seen sobbing on the pavement after being rescued.

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The Transport Department said all lanes on Jordan Road in the direction of Hung Hom were closed to traffic, in addition to all Tsim Sha Tsui-bound lanes along Nathan Road.

Exit B1 at the Jordan MTR station has been temporarily closed.

New Lucky House was constructed in 1964 and includes residential and commercial spaces.

District councillor Ip Ngo-tung said on Wednesday that the building had at least 30 guest house units and about 100 subdivided flats.

Additional reporting by Harvey Kong

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