Building fire kills 46, injures dozens in Southern Taiwan
A fierce blaze started in the 13-storey commercial and residential building at 2.54 am local time.Author : A. Gayatri
Around 46 people were killed and dozens were injured after a massive fire engulfed a tower at midnight in Southern Taiwan, the local authorities informed on Thursday.
A 13-storey residential and commercial building caught fire at 2:54 a.m. local time (2:54 p.m. ET) in Kaohsiung city's Yancheng district, reported Taiwan's official Central News Agency. The fire department in a statement called the blaze “extremely fierce”.
The fire has destroyed many floors.
With more than 37 rescue workers, the rescue operations are still ongoing.
The Kaohsiung city fire bureau said that 41 people have suffered injuries in the fire incident.
Fire Chief Li Ching-hsiu told reporters that at last 11 bodies were straight sent to the morgue and another 14 who showed no signs of life were amongst the 55 rushed to the hospital.
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Official confirmation of death can only be stated by the hospital in Taiwan.
According to Li, the death toll could exceed 40 as many have been stuck inside the tower.
Video footage on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke gushing out of the building's lower floors as firefighters splashed water on the fire from the street.
According to CNA, a minimum of 139 fire trucks and ambulances had to be brought on to the scene to extinguish the fire by 7:17 a.m. (7:17 pm ET). 62 people between the ages of 8 and 83 were rescued by midday.
CNA also reported that the building is occupied by more than 100 residents, many of whom are senior citizens with physical disabilities.
At the moment the exact cause of the fire is unclear but the local police say they are reviewing the CCTV footage and said human factors cannot be ruled out.
In a Facebook post, Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s President, expressed her "deepest condolences" to the victims.
In her post, Tsai promised to "spare the most efforts" towards the rescue of the trapped, resettlement of fire-affected residents and offer necessary assistance to victims' families.
She also wrote, "Facing this serious accident, we extend our deepest condolences to the victims, and we wish the injured a speedy recovery".
The exact reason behind the fire is not clear, but as per the fire department's statement, the firefighters noticed that the flames had burned most intensely where a lot of clutter had piled up.
Eyewitnesses informed the Taiwan media that they had heard an explosion around 3 am.
The tower that caught the fire is around 40 years old with shops on the lower levels and apartments in the upper part of the building.
The fire got the lower floors completely blackened and damaged.