46 Killed In Early Morning Fire In Taiwan
Over 46 people have died after a 13-story commercial and residential building caught fire on Thursday in Kaohsiung, a large port city in southern Taiwan.
The fire broke out around 3 a.m., when most of the building’s residents were asleep in bed, Kaohsiung Fire Bureau chief Lee Ching-hsiu told The Central News Agency, Taiwan’s national wire agency.
Authorities say the early hour contributed to the high death toll, along with the number of elderly people living in the building, many of whom have dementia or physical disabilities.
Lee said the stairwell of the building was also obstructed by objects that had been left there over the years, which impeded residents trying to evacuate.
The fire broke out on the first floor of the building, authorities told CNA. Because the first few floors of the skyscraper had high ceilings and glass storefronts, the heat rose rapidly. The fire rose to the sixth floor and filled the seven floors above it with smoke. On Thursday, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai apologized for the fire and vowed to launch an investigation into what caused the deadly blaze and a probe into the city’s fire safety standards. Kaohsiung is the third-largest city in Taiwan.