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HOTEL FIRE NEW JOURNAL-70
 

Fire spreads in Durban hotel

Durban, South Africa
25/06/2007

People stuck inside the Seaboard Hotel wait for a helicopter to rescue them on top of the building. (S'bu Mfeka, The Witness)

Durban - The fire in the 32-storey Seaboard Hotel in Durban has spread to the 12th floor.

There were still between 50 and 60 people on the roof, awaiting evacuation on Monday night.

Five firemen have been injured, four by smoke inhalation and one with minor burns.

Two firemen who were trapped in the building earlier in the night were among the five, who have all been taken to hospital.

Thekwini fire chief Mark Te Water said the greatest difficulty was getting a reliable water supply. Crews from six fire stations had been pulled in to fight the blaze.

Three helicopters used in airlift

Three helicopters joined in the airlift: one SA Police Service chopper, one ports authority chopper that usually carried harbour pilots out to incoming ships, and an SA Air Force Oryx.

Flames on the 11th floor had subsided.

At least 70 people were airlifted off the roof earlier as flames ripped through the 10th and 11th floors.

A 70-year-old man was found sleeping on the 14th floor by the police's search-and-rescue unit. He was overcome by smoke inhalation.

They carried him up 18 floors to the roof top.

The 11th floor of the building was occupied by detectives of the Point police station.

Police dockets destroyed

Captain Adele Sonekus said: "All my certificates are up there, and all my dockets for my cases.


"What's not destroyed by the fire, will be by the water."

Among those rescued was a seven-month-old baby, Loubeine Oosthuizen.

The nearby Palm View Hotel responded to the crisis by making cups of tea for the survivors and medical crews.

A hydraulic platform - a crane with a hose - was at the hotel, its spray only reaching to the 8th, 9th and 10th floors.

Police were posted to keep curious crowds of onlookers away so that firemen could work.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier S'bu Ndebele arrived at the hotel and eThekwini municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe and the safety and security MEC, Bheki Cele, also were there.

Earlier, loudspeakers issued messages in English, Zulu and Portuguese, telling occupants to get to the roof.

Hundreds of people gathered at the corner of West Street and Brickhill Road, watching the flames dance. >

A witness to the fire at the 32-storey Seaboard Hotel in Durban was amazed by what she saw.

"I would never have imagined seeing something like this in real life, It seems like something out of the movies," Durban resident Vedharshi Jadoo said from the scene.

Jadoo had been driving along Point Road, when she noticed the helicopters, smoke and sirens.

"I can see that the ninth floor is on fire, and it doesn't seem like it's so far up.

"There are sparks flying in all directions, and people are everywhere."

Jadoo said she could clearly see a helicopter with a basket hanging from it, carrying people of the rooftop

 

 

 

 

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