A fire in a building in southern Taiwan killed 46 people, local officials said Thursday. They also predict the death toll will continue to rise.
The 13-story building caught fire at around 3am Thursday, said a firefighter in the city of Kaohsiung. A statement from the Fire Service said the fire was “extremely violent” and destroyed many floors of the building.
At least 11 victims were sent directly to the morgue, Fire Service Chief Li Ching-hsiu told reporters at the scene. Fourteen other people who showed no signs of life were among the 55 people taken to hospital.
In Taiwan, official confirmation of death can only be done in a hospital.
The firefighters are still conducting search and rescue efforts.
Video shown on Taiwanese television showed the flames appearing to be orange in color and smoke billowing from the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water on the building from a nearby street. After daybreak, they were still seen spraying water on the central floor of the building, where the fire was still smoldering.
The cause of the fire is still unclear, but firefighters say it is one of the most intense.
A number of eyewitnesses told Taiwanese media that they heard an explosion at around 3am.
The building is about 40 years old with shops downstairs and apartments above. The ground floor looks completely black. [ab/uh]