• Short Summary

    INTRODUCTION: In this year alone, there have been 50 fires in Hong Kong's densely packed squatter districts where thousands of families live in makeshift shacks.

  • Description


    GV ZOOM INTO Devastated area
    GV PAN Devastated area
    GV PAN TO Temporary shelter. (3 SHOTS)

    GV Relief workers distributing food to fire victims. (3 SHOTS)

    GV Family of refugees arriving at village PAN TO shelters. (2 SHOTS)
    GV INTERIOR TRACKING INSIDE Temporary shelter to family playing mahjong CU PULL TO SV players. (2 SHOTS)
    GV Child drawing and baby being bathed. (2 SHOTS)
    TRACK INTO CU OF Boy watching TV PAN FROM family TO colour TV. (2 SHOTS)
    GV Refugees inside compound

    Background: INTRODUCTION: In this year alone, there have been 50 fires in Hong Kong's densely packed squatter districts where thousands of families live in makeshift shacks. Ten fires in November have made nearly 6,500 people homeless and the authorities say that total number of fire victims this year is more than 24,000. The problem of rehousing them has seriously taxed the government's resources.

    SYNOPSIS: On Saturday (21 November) fire swept through the crude shacks of Lamtin village destroying the homes of several thousand people. But amazingly, only nine people were injured and only three of them seriously. But the people who fled the blaze all have to be rehoused.

    One solution is provided by the temporary housing areas like the Shamshuipo Camp on land which was originally scheduled to be public park. Now the idea of a park has been postponed indefinitely.

    The families who live in this temporary shelter are provided with simple meals of rice and fish by relief workers. But more pressing than the problem of food is the problem of space. The present temporary shelters are limited in size and although a massive building programme has been hastily organised the new emergency shelters will not be available until the middle of next year at the earliest.

    More refugees have been arriving at the Shamshuipo shelter following the last fire and the government is seriously concerned that it might not be able to cope with the effects of another blaze.

    In the meantime, the refugees are learning to make the best of their new homes and are passing the time under difficult conditions. The traditional Chinese game of mahjong is a favourite way of relaxing.

    The magnitude of the problem has prompted the government to consider letting squatters return to their old sites and rebuild their homes. But it's feared this could lead to the shanty towns which were so prone to fire. So the authorities are thinking of introducing tight controls over the huts. They would have to space further apart in an orderly fashion and possibly have firebreaks and buffer zones between houses.

    InitialsJS Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

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    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
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