46 Killed as Building Catches Fire in Taiwan

·2 min read

On Thursday, 14 October, a residential and commercial building in southern Taiwan was engulfed in fire overnight, killing at least 46 people and injuring another 41.

According to fire department officials, the 13-storey building caught fire at around 3 am in the city of Kaohsiung. It took the officers more than four hours to extinguish the blaze, and the search and rescue operations continued into the afternoon.

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Although Mayor Chen Chi-mai said the building was partly abandoned, having previously been host to restaurants, karaoke lounges, and a cinema, reports suggest that a number of residents of the block were old or faced some disabilities.

The BBC reported that around 79 people were rushed to the hospital, 14 of whom were in a serious condition. The death toll was later raised to 25 and the recent reports suggest it to be as high as 46.

In Taiwan, the official confirmation of death can only be made by a hospital, AP reported.

The blaze was "extremely fierce" and has destroyed the lower floors completely. There had been speculation of people being trapped between the seventh and 11th floors.

While the cause of the fire has yet not been confirmed, it was observed that piles of unused items came in the way of rescue operations. Officials have also warned people to not let rubbish accumulate and keep staircases unobstructed.

It has been reported that nearby residents heard a loud explosion like sound before the fire enraged.

""The power lines may have been outside, these past few days there have been 'boom' sounds from the power (lines)."" - A resident to local reporters

The government is investigating the cause, including whether arson was to blame.

(With inputs from BBC, AP, and Reuters.)

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