Fire victims get temporary flats
The government yesterday assigned temporary housing to 118 people who were made homeless by the deadly fire in a popular Mong Kok market street last week.
The victims, from 54 households, will be allowed to stay in the public rental estate in Shek Lei, Kwai Chung district, for three months.
Transported by buses, they left a community centre in Yau Ma Tei after midday and settled in the temporary homes with the help of Home Affairs Department officials.
One of those relocated said she felt grateful for the temporary shelter. 'I want to move to public rental housing. There's no take two in life. I don't want to go back to those terrible days [in Fa Yuen Street] again.'
Last Wednesday's fire in Fa Yuen Street - the city's deadliest in 15 years - spread from the market stalls to nearby tenement buildings, killing nine and injuring 34.
Meanwhile, the stall owners urged the government to give them a two-month grace period for them to restructure their stalls to fit their licence requirements.
Brenda Cheng So-ngor, chairwoman of the Federation of Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Hawker Associations, said: 'Christmas is coming and then the Lunar New Year is next. We hope to continue our business while fixing the stalls ... It's not good that officials come every day and give summonses.'
Cheng said many of the 200 or so stall owners would need time to get workmen to lower their stalls to the 2.5-metre limit. One owner said removing their trolleys to nearby flats would also be difficult, because they were too big to put into a lift.
Traders had earlier agreed to remove goods from their stalls after trading hours to allay public worries about fire risks, but they opposed the idea of dismantling the stalls every night. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has not decided on a solution to improve the safety issues related to market stalls.
WE WANT TO HELP
Many of the families who lost loved ones in the Fa Yuen Street fire were poor. Many of those injured will struggle to pay for their rehabilitation. The smoke has yet to clear on the extent of the personal devastation. The SCMP Heart of Hong Kong Relief Fund is appealing for donations to help those affected. Please give generously to bring help to the fire victims.
By cheque payable to 'SCMP Charities Ltd'. Please write 'Mong Kok fire' on the back of the cheque.
By direct transfer: HSBC 502-676588-001. Please add a transfer note of 'Mong Kok fire'.