Denver, Colorado 2021-10-14 12:00:43 –
By HUIZ HONGWU
Kaohsiung, Taiwan (AP) — At least 46 people were killed and 41 injured after a fire broke out in a devastated mixed commercial and residential building in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s port city.
According to neighbors, the 13-story building was home to many poor people, the elderly and the disabled, and it was not clear what of the 120 units was occupied.
Witnesses said they heard something that sounded like an explosion around 3 am when a flame broke out on the lower floors of a building that had a closed cinema, an abandoned restaurant, and a karaoke club.
70-year-old Tsai Siuchin lived in this building for 15 years. At 3 am, she heard someone shout “fire.” She took the elevator down and said she ran away with only her clothes on her back.
“I didn’t bring anything. On Thursday night, I sat across from the burnt building and tried to process my experience over a beer with a friend.
On the other side of the street, Lin Chein said she woke up at her house with the sound of ambulances and fire trucks. “I thought our house would burn out,” she said.
It took the firefighters to put out the flames until after 7am. Many of the upper floors did not seem to be directly damaged. However, the smoke was thick enough to kill and injure dozens of people living on the fire.
Throughout Thursday, first responders dug into the wreckage and recovered dozens of bodies. It was confirmed that 14 of the 55 people who were first taken to the hospital died on or shortly after arrival.
According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, aging buildings and piles of debris blocking access to many areas have complicated search and rescue operations, officials said.
Later that day, the smell of smoke still remained, and the sound of glass breaking echoed throughout the area. Construction workers were lifted by a crane, stripped the remaining glass from the window sill with a crowbar, and waited for scaffolding to prevent the building from becoming more dangerous.
A scattered crowd gathered across the street. A curious spectator boarded the scooter and paused to check for damage.
The decades-old apartment is one of many buildings in Yancheng District, the old town of Kaohsiung City, which has a population of about 2.8 million in southwestern Taiwan.
“For my family and Yancheng, I feel unparalleled pain and blame myself deeply,” Mayor Chen Heater apologized at a press conference. “Here I would like to express my deep sorrow to all the injured and dead, as well as their families and all the inhabitants.”
It seems that a fire broke out on the first floor, but the exact location was not immediately known. The cause is still under investigation.
According to the United Daily News, investigators are focusing on the coffee shop on the ground floor where the fire broke out, and police are investigating residents who allegedly fought their girlfriend early Wednesday. They did not eliminate arson, the newspaper said.
Fire extinguishers were installed last month, but only three were installed on each floor because residents couldn’t afford to pay any more, the United Daily News reported in a major newspaper.
A fire broke out in 1995 at a nightclub in Taichung, Taiwan’s third largest city, killing 64 people in the most deadly disaster in the country recently.
At least 46 killed in Taiwanese apartment building inferno – The Denver Post Source link At least 46 killed in Taiwanese apartment building inferno – The Denver Post