46 Killed In Early Morning Fire In Taiwan

A 13-story residential and commercial building set ablaze in Kaohsiung on Thursday morning has claimed the lives of at least 46 people. It is a major port city in southern Taiwan.

A building in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwanese, is engulfed by smoke from an overnight fire.

The Key Facts

According to Kaohsiung Fire Bureau chief Lee Chinghsiu, Taiwan's national wire agency, the fire started at 3 a.m. when most residents were sleeping in their beds. Authorities believe the death toll was high due to the early hours and the large number of elderly residents of the building. Many of these people have dementia or other physical disabilities. Lee stated that the stairwell was blocked by items left over the years. This made it difficult for residents to evacuate. According to CNA, smoke inhalation caused at least 41 injuries during the fire. Police are currently investigating the cause of the fire and have four eyewitnesses to question.

Officials Thursday said that the death toll from a fire that destroyed a building in southern Taiwan overnight has risen to... [+] ASSOCIATED NEWS

Important Background

According to CNA, the fire started on the first floor. The heat quickly rose because the skyscraper's first floors had high ceilings with glass storefronts. The flames reached the sixth floor, filling the seven floors below it with smoke. Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chimai apologized Thursday for the fire. He promised to investigate the cause of the deadly blaze as well as the fire safety standards. Kaohsiung ranks third in Taiwan's largest cities.

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Kaohsiung fire deaths rise to 46, while injuries reach 41 (Central News Agency).