TAIPEI, Taiwan – A fire in southern Taiwan left 25 people dead and dozens injured after engulfing a residential building overnight Thursday.
The 13-story building caught fire around 3 a.m., Kaohsiung City fire officials said.
Authorities said 55 people had been taken to hospital, including 14 people who showed no signs of life. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death can only be made in hospital.
At least 11 people found at the scene were sent directly to the morgue, the fire chief said speaking to reporters at the site of the blaze.
Firefighters carried out search and rescue operations in the afternoon.
The fire was “extremely fierce” and destroyed many floors of the building, according to a statement from the fire department.
Firefighters are unsure of the source of the blaze, but noted that the flames burned most intensely where much of the mess had been piled up.
Eyewitnesses told local media they heard the sound of an explosion around 3 a.m.
The building is around 40 years old, according to an official statement, with shops on the lower levels and apartments above.
While the fire was put out, the lower levels of the building were completely blacked out.