Heroine of HK hostel fire 'always helpful'

Heroine of HK hostel fire 'always helpful'

The heroine who alerted others to escape a burning Hong Kong guesthouse had a kind heart and was always helpful.

Singaporean ballroom dancer Tiara Zhang Zhi Zhen (right), 33, died at the Singapore General Hospital on Friday after being in a coma for six months.

Ms Zhang had been in a coma since the incident on Dec 29, 2013 when Yesinn guesthouse in Hong Kong caught fire in the early morning.

Instead of escaping, she rushed to the rooms of other guests, hammering on doors and alerting others to save themselves.

But in the process, she inhaled too much smoke. The oxygen flow to her brain was cut off, her heart stopped and she was unconscious by the time she was taken to hospital.

Ms Zhang was an account director at events marketing agency George P. Johnson, reported The Straits Times.

A colleague, who wanted to be known only as Ms Dai, told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao that Ms Zhang had a kind heart and had always been willing to help.

Whenever any co-workers ran into difficulties, Ms Zhang would readily guide them.

She was also patient and meticulous in coaching her juniors, Ms Dai added.

Ms Zhang represented Singapore in ballroom dancing contests such as the 2009 Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam.

Mr Kelvin Toh, 31, a dance coach and Ms Zhang's former dance partner with whom she represented Singapore in competitions, told The Straits Times in January that he was not surprised by her heroics that day. "She would not leave anyone behind and would always give others a helping hand," he said.

Ms Zhang had been on a holiday with friends at the Yesinn guesthouse then.

The blaze started when construction debris in the back alley of Continental Mansion, a 24-storey residential building in North Point, caught fire.

The flames quickly climbed up the bamboo scaffolding and mesh cover of the building, which was undergoing maintenance work.

The Yesinn guesthouse had units on the third, fifth, 10th and 15th storeys.

A total of 25 people were injured in the fire, seven critically.

Five other Singaporeans who were taken to hospital, including three friends travelling with Ms Zhang, were discharged from hospital.

She was airlifted back to Singapore in February, where she remained in a coma until her death on Friday.

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