The Garley Building, where 40 people died in a fire in 1996, has become a derelict drug den overrun by rodents, a district council meeting was told yesterday. 'The environment inside and outside the Garley Building is quite poor. For example, there are tens of thousands of mice,' Yau Tsim Mong councillor Henry Chan Man-yu told a Housing Committee meeting. 'According to complaints lodged by the public, there are always drug addicts and vagrants gathering in front of the building or even sneaking into it to do illegal activities.' He proposed that the Urban Renewal Authority redevelop the private commercial building in Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, which has been a vacant shell since the fire. The blaze, which also left 80 people injured, was caused by a spark from a welding torch while new lifts were being built. Authority representatives told councillors they would present the proposal to their board for consideration. The council will also write to the building's owners about the environmental and safety concerns raised. Councillors who spoke at the meeting said they were concerned about having an eyesore occupying a prime location in Tsim Sha Tsui. 'In its present condition it is hazardous to tourists and poses an environmental problem to the wider community,' Mr Chan said. The 16-storey building was owned by 63 shareholders when first registered in 1976, he said. Any decision on the fate of the building requires the unanimous approval of all its incorporated owners. Mr Chan said the Urban Renewal Authority should exercise its powers to decide the future use of the building. A Buildings Department statement said officers were sent regularly to check the safety of the structure. Some units had been severely damaged in the fire and experts needed to check them for structural safety before they could be let out, the department said.