| 10.5°C Belfast

Chinese welders held after 53 die in apartments blaze

Close

A fire at an apartment building in Shanghai, China, has killed 53 people (AP)

A fire at an apartment building in Shanghai, China, has killed 53 people (AP)

People from another building watch firefighters extinguish a blaze in Shanghai (AP)

People from another building watch firefighters extinguish a blaze in Shanghai (AP)

Firefighters spray water on an apartment building on fire in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. The state news agency says the fire in the high-rise apartment building in China's business center of Shanghai has killed at least eight people and injured more than 90. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

Firefighters spray water on an apartment building on fire in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. The state news agency says the fire in the high-rise apartment building in China's business center of Shanghai has killed at least eight people and injured more than 90. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

STR

In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, an apartment building is on fire in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010.  Fire engulfed the high-rise apartment building under renovation in China's business center of Shanghai on Monday, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 90 and sending some residents scattering down scaffolding to escape.  (AP Photo/Xinhua, Chen Fei) ** NO SALES **

In this photo released by China's Xinhua news agency, an apartment building is on fire in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. Fire engulfed the high-rise apartment building under renovation in China's business center of Shanghai on Monday, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 90 and sending some residents scattering down scaffolding to escape. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Chen Fei) ** NO SALES **

chen fei

In this citizen journalism photo acquired by the Associated Press an apartment building is on fire in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010.  Fire engulfed the high-rise apartment building under renovation in China's business center of Shanghai on Monday, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 90 and sending some residents scattering down scaffolding to escape.  (AP Photo/Karl Loo)

In this citizen journalism photo acquired by the Associated Press an apartment building is on fire in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. Fire engulfed the high-rise apartment building under renovation in China's business center of Shanghai on Monday, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 90 and sending some residents scattering down scaffolding to escape. (AP Photo/Karl Loo)

Karl Loo

In this citizen journalism photo acquired by the Associated Press people watch as an apartment building burns in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010.  Fire engulfed the high-rise apartment building under renovation in China's business center of Shanghai on Monday, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 90 and sending some residents scattering down scaffolding to escape.  (AP Photo/Karl Loo)

In this citizen journalism photo acquired by the Associated Press people watch as an apartment building burns in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. Fire engulfed the high-rise apartment building under renovation in China's business center of Shanghai on Monday, killing at least eight people, injuring more than 90 and sending some residents scattering down scaffolding to escape. (AP Photo/Karl Loo)

Karl Loo

Firefighters spray water on an apartment building on fire in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. The state news agency says the fire in the high-rise apartment building in China's business center of Shanghai has killed at least eight people and injured more than 90. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

Firefighters spray water on an apartment building on fire in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. The state news agency says the fire in the high-rise apartment building in China's business center of Shanghai has killed at least eight people and injured more than 90. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

STR

In this Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 photo, residents stand on scaffolding as they wait for help after a fire broke out at the apartment building in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China. Investigators searched Tuesday for the cause of a fire that engulfed a high-rise apartment building under renovation in China's business center of Shanghai, killing 49 people and sending residents scrambling down scaffolding to escape. (AP Photo) ** CHINA OUT **

In this Monday, Nov. 15, 2010 photo, residents stand on scaffolding as they wait for help after a fire broke out at the apartment building in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China. Investigators searched Tuesday for the cause of a fire that engulfed a high-rise apartment building under renovation in China's business center of Shanghai, killing 49 people and sending residents scrambling down scaffolding to escape. (AP Photo) ** CHINA OUT **

People from another building watch firefighters extinguish fire on an apartment building in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. The state news agency says the fire in the high-rise apartment building in China's business center of Shanghai has killed at least eight people and injured more than 90. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

People from another building watch firefighters extinguish fire on an apartment building in the downtown area of Shanghai, east China, on Monday Nov. 15, 2010. The state news agency says the fire in the high-rise apartment building in China's business center of Shanghai has killed at least eight people and injured more than 90. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

STR

A fire at an apartment building in Shanghai, China, has killed 53 people (AP)

Unlicensed welders have been detained by police in China after a blaze engulfed a high-rise apartment building under renovation in Shanghai, killing 53 people and injuring more than 70 others.

A preliminary investigation showed the four men improperly operated their welding equipment, sparking the blaze in China's business capital, state television and media websites reported.

Witnesses and building residents quoted earlier by state media said the fire began when building materials caught alight. The flames then spread quickly to scaffolding covering the 29-storey building, which houses a number of retired teachers as well as other families.

Apart from the death toll of 53, the city government said more than 70 other people had been rushed to hospital.

While some survivors were housed overnight in the gym of a nearby retirement home, others searched for missing family members.

Some residents escaped by climbing down scaffolding which had been put up for the renovations.

The fire was one of China's worst in recent years, and disasters of this scale are rare in Shanghai, a wealthy city which is one of the country's best-run urban centres.

PA