At Least 46 Dead In Taiwan Apartment Building Fire
At least 46 people were killed and another 41 injured after a fire broke out early Thursday in a decades-old mixed commercial and residential building in the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, Huizhong Wu reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: It took firefighters until after 7 a.m. to extinguish the Kaohsiung blaze.
Neighborhood residents said the 13-story building was home to many poor, elderly, and disabled people and it wasn’t clear how many of the 120 units were occupied.
Witnesses said they heard something that sounded like an explosion at about 3 a.m. when the blaze erupted in the building’s lower floors, which housed a closed movie theater, abandoned restaurants, and karaoke clubs.
Lin Chie-ying said she was awakened in her home across from the fire by the sounds of ambulances and fire trucks. “I thought our home would burn up too,” she said. The apartment building is one of many in the Yancheng district, an older part of Kaohsiung, a city of some 2.8 million people in southwestern Taiwan.
“For the families and Yancheng, I feel incomparable pain and I blame myself deeply,” Mayor Chen Chi Mai said at a news conference, bowing in apology. “Here I want to express my deepest sorrow to all the wounded and those who died, as well as their families and all the residents.”
It took firefighters until after 7 a.m. to extinguish the blaze. Many of the upper floors appeared not to have been damaged directly. Late in the day, the smell of smoke still lingered throughout the area and the sound of shattering glass rang.
Construction workers were raised on a crane to break out the remaining glass from window frames with a crowbar to remove additional hazards.
Throughout Thursday, first responders pored through the wreckage and recovered dozens of bodies. Another 14 of 55 taken initially to the hospital were confirmed dead on arrival or shortly after.