At least 46 dead after apartment building fire in Taiwan
At least 46 people died in Taiwan on Thursday in a fire at an aging apartment building that was home to many poor, elderly and disabled people.
The 13-story commercial and the residential building caught on fire around 3 a.m. in the port city of Kaohsiung, officials said, The Associated Press reported. Many people apparently died of smoke inhalation as firefighters took until 7 a.m. to extinguish the flames.
Along with the 46 dead, 41 were injured as authorities still have to determine how the fire began.
United Daily News said investigators believe the fire began in a first-floor tea shop, according to the AP. They haven’t ruled out arson and spoke with a resident who had a fight with his girlfriend on Wednesday.
Other businesses on the first floor included clubs, an abandoned movie theater and abandoned restaurants.
Although upper floors in the building did not sustain much damage, residents were still killed and injured due to the smoke rising through the building from the fire below.
The residents only had three fire extinguishers per floor since they could not pay for more, United Daily News reported.
The debris and buildings’ age hindered search and rescue efforts, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.