Apartment fire kills 46 in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung

‘Fierce’ blaze in the 13-floor building in Yancheng district broke out early morning, with witnesses reporting hearing an explosion.

Firefighters and medical workers walk past a damaged residential building following a fire in Kaohsiung [Woo Swee Kay/Reuters]

A fire in a residential building in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung has killed at least 46 people and injured another 41, according to officials.

The blaze in the 13-floor building in Kaohsiung’s Yancheng district broke out in the early hours of Thursday and was extinguished around dawn.

Witnesses told local media that they heard an explosion at approximately 3am local time (19:00 GMT on Wednesday).

The Kaohsiung fire department said in a statement that after completing a search of the 40-year-old building, they were able to confirm 46 deaths.

It also said the blaze was “extremely fierce” and destroyed many floors.

Emergency personnel at the scene of the damaged building [Stringer/CNA via AFP]

At least 11 bodies were sent straight to the morgue, Fire Chief Li Ching-hsiu told reporters at the scene.

Another 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55 taken to the hospital.

Mayor Chen Chi-mai said the building was partly abandoned, having previously been host to restaurants, karaoke lounges and a cinema.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the cause, including whether arson was to blame.

The fire department said the flames burned most intensely where a lot of clutter had been piled up.

Video on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing out of the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water at it from the street.

After daybreak, they could be seen spraying water into the middle floors of the still smouldering building from elevated platforms.

Rescuers tend to a survivor of the fire in Kaohsiung [Johnson Liu/AFP]
Source: News Agencies