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Shanghai Holds Fire Drill

The Shanghai Fire Control Bureau held a large-scale fire drill at the metro station early Sunday morning, with firefighters, police and paramedics helping 500 volunteers escape a mock fire at the People's Square Metro Station.

The drill was set up to ensure the city is prepared for a subway fire similar to one that killed nearly 200 people in South Korea in February of this year.

At 12:30 am Sunday morning, a subway car traveling from the Henan Road M. Station pulled into People's Square. Just before it arrived, a mock fire was set.

When the train arrived at the smoke-filled station, hundreds of people rushed out and tried to make their way to safety.

While the drill went reasonably smoothly, some were tripped up and stepped on during the panic to flee the station. Fifty of the volunteers were intentionally lost in the station so firefighters could rescue them.

During the 20-minute drill, firemen set up hoses to stop the fire and carried the "injured" to safety on stretchers.

Organizers say that the drill ended without a single "death" suggests it was a success.

The People's Square Station was chosen for the drill as it is the city's largest underground transportation hub, handling 500,000 passengers during an average day.

With the city planning to have 17 metro lines with a combined 766 kilometers of track, the city will hold more such drills in the future.

Many local communities areas also held fire-fighting drills yesterday, which was "119 Publicity Day" in the city, a day named after Shanghai's fire emergency phone number.

"Shanghai has a large number of dilapidated residential areas, which are made of wood and brick. Fire prevention there is very crucial, especially in the winter when residents like to close their doors and windows to stay warm," said Chen Jiahua of the bureau.

During the first nine months of this year, there were 4,588 fires in the city, killing 31 people and injuring 76.

(eastday.com November 10, 2003)

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