A building fire in Taiwan has killed 46 people and injured dozens more.
On Thursday, a fire ripped through a building in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s southern metropolis, killing 46 people and wounding scores more in the island’s biggest inferno in decades.
According to officials, the fire broke out in the 13-story mixed-use building in the early hours of Thursday morning, blazing across numerous floors before firemen were able to put it out.
Smoke billowed from the building’s windows, as firefighters feverishly battled to extinguish the flames with extension hoses, according to photos released by Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.
The fire department in Kaohsiung claimed it dispatched more than 70 trucks to fight the blaze, which took four hours to extinguish.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, the enormity of the fire became obvious, with every storey of the structure visibly burned and the majority of its windows smashed.
According to the fire brigade, the fire “caused 41 injuries and 46 deaths,” with the majority of the fatalities occurring on floors seven through eleven, which held residential flats.
The first five levels were intended for commercial usage, but they were empty.
When the fire broke out on the lower floors, residents reported hearing a lot of loud bangs.
“I heard many loud noises — ‘bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang,
He continued, “That’s when I realized there was a fire and contacted the cops.”
“When I opened the door to get out, the hallway was full of black smoke,” an unnamed female witness said of the situation on her floor.
The building was 40 years old, according to a constable with the Kaohsiung police department, and was largely populated by low-income residents.
Survivors estimated that roughly 100 people lived in the apartment building, according to the constable, who only gave his surname Liu.
Officials had not ruled out the possibility of arson, he added. There were forensics teams on the scene, and more searches of the premises were scheduled before dark.
The fire appears to be the deadliest in Taiwan in years. The last fire of this magnitude occurred in 1995, when 64 people died in a crowded karaoke bar.
Taiwan has tight building rules and a generally solid safety record as an island frequently pummeled by earthquakes and typhoons.
However, especially in older structures, there is sometimes a disconnect between what the rules indicate and how safety standards are implemented.
When older buildings collapse, some of the biggest mortality tolls in recent earthquakes have occurred, with subsequent investigations occasionally revealing. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.