Fire in the city of Kaohsiung in Taiwan leaves at least 46 dead and more than 40 injured

A ‘fierce’ fire in the 13-story building in Yancheng district broke out early in the morning, and witnesses reported hearing an explosion.

A fire in a residential building in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung killed at least 46 people and injured 41 others, according to authorities.

The fire at the 13-story building in Kaohsiung’s Yancheng district broke out in the early hours of Thursday and was extinguished at dawn.

Witnesses told local media that they heard an explosion at approximately 3 am local time (19:00 GMT on Wednesday).

The Kaohsiung Fire Department said in a statement that after completing a search of the 40-year-old building, they were able to confirm 46 deaths.

He also said the fire was “extremely fierce” and destroyed many floors.

Emergency personnel at the site of the damaged building [Stringer/CNA via AFP]

At least 11 bodies were sent directly to the morgue, fire chief Li Ching-hsiu told reporters at the scene.

Another 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55 taken to the hospital.

Mayor Chen Chi-mai said the building was partially abandoned, as it had previously housed restaurants, karaoke rooms and a movie theater.

Authorities have opened an investigation into the cause, even if arson was the culprit.

The fire department said the flames burned the brightest where a large amount of clutter had piled up.

Video on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing from the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water from the street.

After sunrise, they could be seen spraying water on the middle floors of the still-smoking building from elevated platforms.

Rescuers treat a survivor of the Kaohsiung fire [Johnson Liu/AFP]

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