Taiwanese authorities confirmed that the death toll from a building fire in the southern city of Kaohsiung rose to at least 46. Dozens more were injured amid the flames that took several hours to be extinguished by firefighters.
The flames devastated the 40-year-old building in southern Taiwan, as many of its inhabitants struggled to leave the site.
The authorities explained that the significant number of victims, at least 46 deceased and 41 hospitalized, is due to the fact that the building was mostly occupied by elderly or physically disabled people, which complicated their escape.
According to the survivors, around a hundred people inhabited the 13-story building.
A massive fire erupted in a high-rise building in #Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s southern city, killing at least 46 people and hospitalizing dozens more. Over 140 fire fighters were dispatched to put out the blaze. pic.twitter.com/epkOm6YpEK
– TaiwanPlus (@taiwanplusmedia) October 14, 2021
“I heard many strong blows and I went down to investigate (…) It was then that I realized there was a fire and I called the police,” a resident of the building told local television.
Meanwhile, another witness described the difficulties he encountered in leaving the site. “When I opened the door to go out, the hallway was full of black smoke,” he said.
The fire is shaping up to be the deadliest in Taiwan in more than two decades
The building was intended for both residential and commercial use. Firefighters indicated that most of the victims were between the seventh and eleventh floors, which housed apartments, while the first five levels, intended for businesses, were unoccupied.
The “extremely aggressive” fire engulfed the site for at least four hours, as more than 70 fire trucks struggled to extinguish it.
The authorities carry out an investigation to try to clarify the causes of this fact and assure that they do not rule out that it was a provoked situation.
Rescuers noted that the flames burned more intensely at a point where there were many accumulated objects.
This fire is shaping up to be the deadliest in Taiwan in years. The last explosion with a similar magnitude of deaths dates back to 1995, when 64 people died in a crowded karaoke club.
With AFP, Reuters and AP