Building flames rage for hours overnight in Taiwan, killing 46 people

Kaohsiung City, Taiwan — Officials said Thursday that a building fire that raged all night in a large city in southern Taiwan killed 46 people and injured at least 41.

Firefighters tried to extinguish the flames from the streets and aerial platforms of Kaohsiung City, causing flames and smoke to swirl from the lower floors of a 13-story building. A statement from the fire department described the fire that broke out around 3 am as “extremely severe” and stated that several floors had been destroyed.

Epoch Times Photo
Taken from a video by EBC in Taiwan, this image shows fire and smoke erupting from a building in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, on October 14, 2021. (EBC via AP)

Deaths during the day increased steadily as rescue workers searched for a commercial and residential complex. By late afternoon, authorities said 32 bodies had been sent to the morgue, but an additional 14 who showed no signs of life were among the 55 who were taken to the hospital. In Taiwan, hospitals provide official confirmation of death.

After dawn, firefighters could see spraying water from a high aerial platform on the middle floors of the still smoldering building. An unidentified woman told Taiwanese television that her parents aged 60 to 70 were still inside.

Epoch Times Photo
In this image taken from a video by EBC in Taiwan, firefighters are shooting water into a building that ignited in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan on October 14, 2021. (EBC via AP)

According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, aging buildings and piles of debris blocking access to many areas have complicated search and rescue operations, officials said.

According to local media, many of the residents of the 40-year-old building were elderly and lived alone in a small 13-square-meter (140-square-foot) apartment. According to the Central News Agency, there were 120 homes on the upper floors of the building, below which were a closed cinema, an abandoned restaurant and a karaoke club.

Fire extinguishers were installed last month, but only three were installed on each floor because residents couldn’t afford to pay any more, the United Daily News reported in a major newspaper.

According to Taiwanese media, the fire started on the first floor.

According to the United Daily News, investigators focused on a tea shop on the ground floor where the owner reportedly fought his girlfriend early Wednesday. They did not eliminate arson, the newspaper said.

A fire broke out in 1995 at a nightclub in Taichung, Taiwan’s third largest city, killing 64 people in the most deadly disaster in the country recently.

By Huizhong Wu

Associated Press


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