The death toll in an overnight fire at a building in southern Taiwan has risen to 46, with at least 41 others injured, local officials said on Thursday.
Kaohsiung city fire officials said the fire broke out in the 13-storey building around 3 a.m. Thursday. A statement from the fire department said the fire was “extremely fierce” and destroyed several floors.
Fire chief Lee Ching-hsiu told reporters at the scene that at least 11 bodies were sent directly to the morgue. The other 14 people showed no signs of life, 55 of them were taken to the hospital. In Taiwan, the official confirmation of death can only be done in the hospital.
Lee said the death toll could pass 40, as firefighters carried out search and rescue efforts in the afternoon.
Video shown on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing from the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water on the street. After daylight, they can be seen sprinkling water from high platforms into the middle floors of the smoldering building.
A statement from the fire department said the cause of the fire was unclear, but firefighters noticed that the flames were burning most intensely.
Witnesses told Taiwanese media they heard the explosion around 3 a.m.
The building is about 40 years old, with shops on the lower levels and apartments upstairs. The lower floors were completely blackened.