At least 7 killed, more critically injured in Yau Ma Tei restaurant fire

Firefighters escort a victim to safety after flames engulfed the Yau Ma Tei restaurant on Nov. 15, 2020. Photo via Apple Daily
Firefighters escort a victim to safety after flames engulfed the Yau Ma Tei restaurant on Nov. 15, 2020. Photo via Apple Daily

At least seven people were killed in a fire that broke out at a building in Yau Ma Tei on Sunday night, including a nine-year-old boy.

Seven more are fighting for their lives in hospital, according to local media, after flames engulfed a first-floor Nepalese restaurant where diners were holding a birthday party.

Most victims were Nepalese and are from low-income families, HKO1 reported. They are also understood to be relatives of each other.

According to South China Morning Post, the restaurant does not have a license, and was set ablaze when lit candles set soundproof panels on fire.

The fire is the most deadly in Hong Kong in nearly a decade. In 2011, nine people were killed in a fire that broke out on Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok.

In a statement, Chief Executive Carrie Lam expressed that she was “deeply saddened” by the fire and had called on the relevant departments to aid the victims’ families.

Jeffrey Andrews, a social worker who works closely with ethnic minority communities, told Coconuts he arrived at the scene about an hour and a half after the fire started.

“It was very chaotic and there was a lot of movement,” he said.

Andrews said he is working with NGO Christian Action to raise funds for the victims, as well as soliciting the help of restaurants and hostels in Chungking Mansions to offer meals and housing.

“The government provided community halls spaces are not ideal because they’re very public,” said Andrews. “You’re having these traumatized people in sleeping bags.”

According to Jordan district councillor Frank Ho, the Red Cross is offering psychological support services to the affected families.

Pictures of the blackened exterior of the building, which had their windows broken into when firefighters conducted the rescue last night, circulated online the day after the fire.

“It is very, very painful for the community,” lamented Andrews. “It will be a slow repair.”

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