Asia

Dozens killed as fire engulfs building in southern Taiwan


At least 46 people have died and another 41 have been injured in a fire in southern Taiwan that engulfed a building overnight.

The 13-storey building caught fire at about 3am local time (2000 BST) on Thursday, officials in the city of Kaohsiung said. A fire department statement said the blaze was “extremely fierce” and destroyed many floors.

At least 11 bodies were sent straight to the morgue, the fire chief Li Ching-hsiu told reporters. Another 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55 taken to hospital. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death can only be made in the hospital.

Eyewitnesses told Taiwan media that they heard an explosion at about 3am
Eyewitnesses told Taiwan media that they heard an explosion at about 3am. Photograph: Fire Bureau Of Kaohsiun/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Officials said firefighters conducted search and rescue efforts into the afternoon.

Video on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing out of the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water from the street. After daybreak, they could be seen hosing the middle floors of the still smouldering building from elevated platforms.

The cause of the fire was unclear, but firefighters noted the flames burned most intensely where a lot of clutter had been piled up, the fire department statement said.

Eyewitnesses told Taiwan media that they heard an explosion at about 3am.

The building is about 40 years old with shops on the lower levels and apartments above. The lower floors were completely blackened.



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