TAIPÉI, Taiwan (AP) – Nine people were killed and 44 injured in a fire that engulfed a building in southern Taiwan overnight, the semi-official Central News Agency, a semi-official outlet, said on Thursday.
The fire started around 3 a.m., according to a statement from firefighters in the city of Kaohsiung. Firefighters were doing search and rescue work Thursday morning.
Although the flames had been extinguished, the lower floors of the building had been completely stained black.
Although deaths in Taiwan are only certified in hospitals, a spokesman for the Kaohsiung Fire Department said 14 people were showing no vital signs. Another 51 people were taken to the hospital to be treated for their injuries.
The fire was “extremely aggressive” and destroyed several floors of the building, according to the fire department statement.
Firefighters were unsure of the source of the fire, although they noted that the flames had burned more intensely at a point where there were many objects piled up.
Witnesses told local media that they had heard an explosion around 3 a.m.
The building was in its 40s, according to an official statement. It had shops on the lower floors and houses upstairs.