Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images
A fire in Taiwan has killed at least 46 people dead and injured dozens of others.
Flames broke out in a building located in Kaohsiung, a southern port city in Taiwan, at 2:54 a.m. local time Thursday, CNN reports. The building, a 13-story commercial and residential structure, housed over 100 residents, including senior citizens with physical disabilities, according to Taiwan's official Central News Agency, per the outlet.
The Kaohsiung fire department told BBC it took over four hours to put out the fire. At least 79 people have since been hospitalized, with 14 reportedly in serious condition.
Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the blaze, according to the BBC, although The New York Times called the fire Taiwan's deadliest in decades.
Firefighters arrived at the building after receiving calls for help at around 3 a.m. local time and were still looking for survivors on Thursday afternoon, according to the Times, which reports the building was home to around 120 families, with many low-income and older residents.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen shared her "deepest condolences" in a statement posted to Facebook Thursday, promising the government would "give maximum support" for the rescue effort, find housing for those displaced by the fire and provide assistance to victims' families.
"We extend our deepest condolences to the victims of this serious accident and hope for a speedy recovery of the injured," she added, per a translation.
The building, which was built in the 1980s, was once bustling with karaoke lounges, restaurants and a movie theater, but the Times reports conditions in the building changed following a fire which broke out there in 1999.
At the time of Thursday's fire, the building had "exposed electricity cables, corroded water pipes and heaps of detritus obstructing dark stairwells," according to the outlet.
Lin Chuan-fu, 57, who lives in Kaohsiung close to the building, told the Times the fire looked like "a sea of flames," adding that he feared for the elderly residents living in the building's higher floors.
"They might not have had enough time to get out," he explained.
KAOHSIUNG FIRE BUREAU HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Surveillance video recorded at a nearby building shows the Kaohsiung building fire beginning on the first floor with a bright flash of light before flames engulfed the entire level, according to local news reports obtained by the Times.
Locals who live near the building reported they heard what sounded like an explosion just before the fire began.
"The power lines may have been outside... these past few days there have been 'boom' sounds from the power [lines]," a resident told Reuters, per the BBC.