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‘It Was a Sea of Flames’: At Least 46 Killed in Taiwan Condominium Fireplace

TAIPEI, Taiwan — At the least 46 individuals have been killed and dozens of others injured after a hearth broke out early Thursday at a big business and residential constructing in southern Taiwan that had badly deteriorated lately, in accordance with native officers and information stories.

At the least 41 different individuals have been being handled for accidents, stated native hearth officers in Kaohsiung, the primary port metropolis in Taiwan, the place the hearth occurred. The reason for the blaze stays beneath investigation, stated Lee Ching-hsiu, the town’s hearth chief.

Surveillance footage from a neighboring constructing confirmed a flash of sunshine on the primary ground, and shortly your entire ground was engulfed in flames, in accordance with native information stories. Images and movies circulating on-line confirmed dazed and soot-covered older residents being escorted out of the charred constructing, some on stretchers.

Firefighters obtained the primary requires assist round 3 a.m. on Thursday and extinguished the blaze about 4 hours later. By the afternoon, they have been nonetheless searching for survivors within the 13-story constructing. The constructing was inhabited by about 120 households, principally low-income and older residents residing between the seventh and eleventh flooring.

“It was a sea of flames,” Lin Chuan-fu, 57, a Kaohsiung resident who lives close to the constructing, stated in a phone interview.

Mr. Lin stated a loud explosion woke him up round 3 a.m., and he went into the road to see what was taking place. He stated the flames had moved rapidly from the bottom ground to the upper flooring. He added that he was anxious that a number of the older residents residing on the upper flooring would have had a tough time evacuating at midnight.

“They won’t have had sufficient time to get out,” he stated.

Constructed within the Eighties, the 13-story constructing is close to the Love River in central Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s third-biggest metropolis. Circumstances within the once-prosperous constructing started to deteriorate after a hearth broke out within the constructing in 1999, in accordance with native stories. Whereas nobody died in that fireside, the constructing was partly deserted, and squatters and gamblers started to maneuver in. Amongst native residents, it grew to become referred to as “Kaohsiung’s No. 1 ghost constructing.”

Current images and video confirmed what gave the impression to be alarming security circumstances contained in the constructing, together with uncovered electrical energy cables, corroded water pipes and piles of particles blocking darkish stairwells.

A number of builders tried to take over and renovate the constructing lately, in accordance with Apple Daily, an area information outlet. However these efforts met with resistance from the constructing’s residents.

Lin Chin-rong, the deputy mayor of Kaohsiung, stated the constructing had been inspected by the police and hearth officers 4 instances since 2019. He stated that an inspection discover had been posted on the constructing as not too long ago as Tuesday, however {that a} barrier had prevented hearth officers from going to the upper flooring.

He stated that native hearth officers and authorities development staff had been in contact with the constructing’s self-appointed representatives within the days earlier than the hearth broke out.

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