Many of the building’s residents were elderly and lived alone
A fire in a 13-storey residential building killed at least 46 people in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan early Thursday.
Firefighters said that 41 people had also been injured in the blaze, adding that they had so far sent 32 bodies to the morgue. Fourteen other people were taken to hospital where doctors declared them dead.
Local fire bureau chief said that the death toll could rise as search and rescue was still continuing.
The blaze was ‘extremely fierce’, and destroyed many floors of the building, according to a statement issued by the fire department.
Flames and smoke billowed from the lower floors of the 13-story building as firefighters tried to douse the blaze from the street and aerial platforms.
Meanwhile, there is an ongoing investigation to determine whether arson was to blame for the fire.
An official statement said that the 40-year-old building had shops at lower levels and apartments above.
The building’s age and piles of debris blocking access to many areas complicated search and rescue efforts, officials said, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
Many of the building’s residents were elderly and lived alone in apartments as small as 140 square feet, local media said.
The building had 120 residential units on the upper floors, as well as a closed movie theater, abandoned restaurants and karaoke clubs below them, the Central News Agency said.