Arson suspected cause of HK blaze which killed 9

HONG KONG - The worst fire calamity to occur in this city since 1997 tore through a six-story, decades-old tenement building on Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok before dawn on Wednesday.

It left at least nine people dead and 34 injured, including a 1-year-old toddler.

More than 200 firemen tried to rescue those in the building. After the blaze was extinguished, six charred bodies were found in the tenement's staircases. Forty-seven other residents were rescued.

Some climbed barefoot to the rooftop to wait to be rescued. Others used torches to send signals to firemen. Some of the injured waited six hours before help came.

The victims who died were sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Kwong Wah Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and Caritas Medical Center.

Six of the injured were reported to be in critical conditions. While some of them were being treated in intensive care units, their family members stood vigil outside, weeping, showing signs of agitation or sitting in silence. None were willing to speak to the press.

A man in his 60s whose surname is Tse waited outside the intensive care unit for his son, who was believed to have suffered from smoke inhalation, although he was not seriously burned.

"When my son was rescued from the fire, his face was completely black, his eyes utterly red, and he kept crying," Tse said.

Tse lives with his son and the son's girlfriend. At the time of the fire, the elder Tse was working a night shift and avoided harm. His son's girlfriend has not been found.

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