Hong Kong Shopping Mall Fire Leaves Over 300 Trapped on Roof

Hundreds of people were trapped on the roof of a shopping and office complex in Hong Kong after a fire broke out around noon on Wednesday, according to local reports.

Firefighters are still on site at the city's World Trade Centre, where videos showed smoke rising from the side of the 38-story tower block and aerial ladders were used to evacuate patrons stuck on a lower-level dining area terrace.

Citing local police, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported at least eight injuries as of 3:15 p.m. local time. They included seven—one man and six women between the ages of 31 to 72—who had been hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Another 52-year-old woman suffered leg a injury, the paper said.

When the fire broke out and thick smoke filled the corridors, occupants fled either to the ground floor or the rooftop. Floors six to 13 house restaurants, while 14 to 38 are offices, The Post said. More than 300 people were waiting to be evacuated from the top of the mixed-use skyscraper located in Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong's busiest shopping districts.

The bottom section of the business complex has undergone months of renovations and was not operating at the time of the blaze, which is still being investigated, according to The Post. The paper cited a preliminary police assessment as saying the blaze likely began inside an electrical switch room before spreading to the scaffolding surrounding the structure.

A video carried by local newspaper The Standard showed what appeared to be several dozen people stranded on the outdoor terrace at the Hong Kong World Trade Centre, some huddle close together as others stood on scaffolding to overlook the street below. Smoke, seemingly from the fire, is visible nearby.

The Standard said rescuers declared the incident a level-three fire, the third-highest on the city's five-tier system. Some diners who tried to flee to the ground floor found themselves trapped by thick smoke filling the stairwell. Firefighters who arrived on the scene then advised the building's occupants to remain on safer floors higher up the complex.

According to the report, the local fire department later completed the rescue of 1,200 people from the building.

The paper confirmed initial reports about the fire starting inside a meter room on one of the lower levels of the shopping mall during Wednesday's lunchtime rush. However, it was still unclear what exactly sparked the fire, which was large enough to ignite the nearby scaffolding.

Newsweek has contacted the Hong Kong Fire Services Department for comment.

1,200 Evacuated from Hong Kong Mall Fire
Firefighters respond to a blaze at the World Trade Centre in Hong Kong's busy Causeway Bay shopping district on December 15, 2021. Reports said around 1,200 people were evacuated from the 38-story shopping and office complex, including more than 300 patrons who were stranded on the building's roof. Kin Cheung/AP Photo