Officials Are Seeking the Cause of a Taiwan Building Fire That Killed 46

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan — Taiwanese officers arrange an unbiased fee Friday to analyze the circumstances at a run-down constructing within the port metropolis of Kaohsiung the place a fireplace killed 46, whereas authorities scoured the blackened ruins for the reason for the blaze.

Prosecutor Hong Ruei-fen instructed reporters on the scene she would search to find out the reason for Thursday’s fireplace as quickly as attainable, earlier than donning a tough hat and strolling into the cordoned-off constructing within the morning.

Exterior, a Taoist priest in conventional robes chanted a prayer for individuals who died, lots of whom had been aged or infirm residents unable to get out of the 13-story constructing after the hearth broke out on the bottom flooring.
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Town’s administration mentioned the constructing had been required to observe fireplace codes and undergo inspections, however that inspectors had not been in a position to entry the premises not too long ago as a result of the doorways had been at all times locked they usually had been unable to coordinate visits with the property homeowners.

Mayor Chen Chi-mai introduced that he had ordered his deputy to arrange an unbiased crew to analyze whether or not negligence contributed to the tragic fireplace, through which one other 41 individuals had been injured.

Of the 46 lifeless, Chen mentioned there have been 21 who had nonetheless not been recognized. He mentioned consultants hoped to make use of fingerprint evaluation to find out who the opposite 19 lifeless had been, however for 2 others they must depend on different strategies.

The constructing had industrial services on decrease flooring, a closed film theatre, eating places and a karaoke bar — most out of enterprise — and a few 120 housing items above.

The hearth broke out within the decrease space at about 3 a.m. Thursday, and witnesses reported listening to a loud sound like an explosion. It took firefighters till after 7 a.m. to completely extinguish the blaze.

Native media say police had been questioning a feminine resident of the constructing who allegedly discarded a burning incense coil in a trash can inside an residence the place she had additionally saved small fuel canisters. A person who carelessly discarded a cigarette outdoors the constructing and the potential for a fireplace within the electrical system had been additionally being investigated, the stories mentioned.

In accordance with neighborhood residents, the constructing was dwelling to many poor, older and disabled individuals, and plenty of seem to have been trapped of their residences.

Lee Mao-sheng, 61, who lives throughout the road, mentioned his buddy Cheng Yong-kang used a wheelchair and died within the fireplace.

Prior to now, the 2 would play mahjong collectively however Lee mentioned he hadn’t seen his buddy shortly as a result of door within the constructing’s elevator steadily didn’t open and residents didn’t have the cash to keep up it.

“The individuals who lived inside, lots of them weren’t in good well being. A lot of them had a incapacity,” Lee mentioned. Low cost lease was the principle purpose individuals lived there beneath lower than perfect circumstances, he mentioned.

On Friday morning, a wire mesh fence and supporting scaffolding cordoned off the constructing and the road in entrance was open once more to site visitors. The constructing didn’t appear in rapid hazard of collapse, although its decrease flooring had been blackened and smoke marked the exteriors of the higher residences.

Tsai Hsiu-chin, 70, who had lived within the constructing for 15 years, mentioned she escaped with simply the clothes on her again after listening to somebody screaming “fireplace” at 3 a.m.

“I didn’t convey something. I simply cared about saving my life,” she mentioned, sitting reverse the charred constructing on Thursday night time, attempting to course of her expertise over a beer with a buddy.

The constructing’s age and piles of particles blocking entry to many areas difficult search and rescue efforts, officers mentioned, based on Taiwan’s Central News Company.

The decades-old residence constructing is one among many within the Yancheng district, an older a part of Kaohsiung, a metropolis of some 2.8 million individuals in southwestern Taiwan.

Hearth extinguishers had been put in final month, however solely three per flooring as a result of the residents couldn’t afford to pay extra, the United Every day News, a serious newspaper, reported.

A 1995 fireplace at a nightclub in Taichung, Taiwan’s third-largest metropolis, killed 64 individuals within the nation’s deadliest such catastrophe in latest instances.


AP journalist Taijing Wu contributed to this story. | Officers Are Searching for the Reason behind a Taiwan Constructing Hearth That Killed 46

Aila Slisco

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