PSB dominates scenes of of devastation

THE usually quiet town of Kuiyong, situated mid-way between Shenzhen city and Daya Bay, was over-run with Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers yesterday as investigations began into the deaths of 81 workers in the Zhili toy factory fire.

The officers cordoned off the area around the factory and the main road, and stationed themselves outside hospital wards.

Debris, burnt cloth and rags were scattered everywhere, and the factory and neighbouring hostel were still wet from more than four hours of fire-fighting.

Inside the factory, one of the staircases had collapsed and the gates, which were forced open by rescue workers, were hanging off their hinges.

Families of the dead started the grim task of identifying the bodies at the Shenzhen Funeral Parlour yesterday.

The officer in charge of the morgue, Liu Chunhua, said it could take up to 10 days to identify the bodies, as most of the dead were from out of town.

He said the morgue started receiving corpses at about 7 pm on Friday, from three trucks which had been used to transport the bodies from the scene to the morgue.

Mr Liu said they had to cremate some of the bodies which had been in the morgue for a long time, in order to create room for the 81 dead.

The injured were taken to four hospitals. Those with minor injuries were taken to the half-built Kuiyong hospital for treatment, while those in fair condition were taken to the Shenzhen People's No. 2 Hospital.

The more seriously burnt were taken to the Shenzhen People's Hospital and the Red Cross Hospital, where doctors warned that some were in a critical condition.

A factory worker said yesterday she was worried: ''I thought there were at least 200 people dead; the entire road was covered with bodies.'' Her daughter, who works with her, escaped with shock and minor injuries.

A woman from Sichuan province, who injured her ankle when she jumped from the second floor, said: ''It was very chaotic, there was some smoke and shouts were heard. All I knew was to run and jump.'' Workers in the hostel next to the toy factory were evacuated from the area on Friday afternoon, and last night they were still at the recreational centre in Kuiyong, most of them sleeping on the floor.