TAIPEI, Taiwan — The death toll from a fire in southern Taiwan that engulfed a building overnight has further risen to 46, according to officials Thursday who said at least another 41 people were injured.
The 13-story building caught fire around 3 a.m. Thursday, fire officials in the city of Kaohsiung said. A fire department statement said the blaze was “extremely fierce” and destroyed many floors.
Authorities say that 32 bodies were sent straight to the morgue from the site of the blaze. Another 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55 taken to hospital. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death can only be made in the hospital.
Another search of the building was planned before sunset, according to officials.
Video shown on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing out of the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water at it from the street. One woman, who was not identified, said her 60-to-70 year old parents were inside.
After daybreak, firefighters could be seen spraying water into the middle floors of the still smoldering building from elevated platforms.
The cause of the fire was unclear, but firefighters noted the flames burned most intensely where a lot of clutter had been piled up, the fire department statement said.
Eyewitnesses told Taiwan media that they heard an explosion around 3 a.m.
The building is about 40 years old with shops on the lower levels and apartments above. The lower floors were completely blackened.