TAIPEI, Taiwan — It was known to the locals as the city’New. 1 ghost building” — a once prosperous property that started to deteriorate after a fire two decades ago. Squatters and gamblers moved in. Stacks of debris blocked stairwells.
early on Thursday, a fire tore through the 13-story building in Kaohsiung, Taiwan main port city, killing minimum 46 people and dozens injured. The fire, the deadliest in Taiwan in decades, underlined the concern over the laxity of the island safety standards.
At least 41 others people were treated for injuries, local fire officials said. The cause of the fire was investigated, said Lee Ching-hsiu, the city’s fire chief.
Surveillance images of a neighbor building showed a flash of light on the first floor, and soon the entire floor was swallowed up in flames, according to local news reports. circulating photos and videos online showed that dazed and met soot-covered elderly residents were escorted out of the charred one building, some on stretchers.
Firefighters got the first belt for help around 3 a.m. on The fire was extinguished on Thursday and around four o’clock hours later on. By noon they were still looking for survivors in the building, which was inhabited by about 120 families, mainly low-income and elderly residents die lived between the seventh and 11th floors.
“It Was a Sea” of flames,” Lin Chuan-fu, 57, a resident of Kaohsiung who lives in near building, said in a telephone interview.
mr. Lin said a loud explosion woke him up up around 3 a.m., and he went to the street to see what happened. He said the flames quickly cleared the ground floor to the higher floors. He added that he was afraid that some of the older residents live on the higher floors would have had one hard evacuate time in the dark.
“They may not have had enough time to out,” he said.
Built in the 1980s, the commercial and residential building in near the Love River in central Kaohsiung, the third largest in Taiwan city, humming once with restaurants, karaoke lounges and a movie theater. but conditions in the building started to deteriorate after a fire broke out there in 1999, according to local reports. while no one died in Which fire, the building was partial abandoned.
recent photos and videos showed what seemed alarming safety circumstances in the building, including exposed power lines, corroded water pipes, and mounds of garbage blocking dark stairwells.
Multiple developers tried to take over and renovate the building in according to recent years Apple Daily, a local news exhaust pipe. But die efforts met with resistance of the building’s residents.
Taiwan has a spotty record when it comes to fire safety. the tragedy on Thursday was Taiwan’s deadliest building fire since 1995, when a fire broke out out in a karaoke club in the central city of Taichung, killing 64 people. Which fire was the deadliest in a wire of big fires die have occurred in Taiwan around the time, and led some to asking questions over the question of the self-governing island, in his drive to democratize and grow economically had over overlooked basic safety concerns in the rush to develop.
In 2018, a explosion at an oil refinery in Northern Taiwan set off An fire Which took hours until extinguish. In July, four people who in a hotel in corona quarantine had been in central Taiwan died after being told to stay in their rooms even after the alarm went off. The hotel was inspected by fire civil servants just two months earlier.
Lin Chin-rong, the Deputy Mayor of Kaohsiung, said the building in Kaohsiung was inspected by the police and fire officials four times since 2019. He said there had been an inspection notice posted on the building as recent as Tuesday, but that a barrier had prevented fire officials of going to the higher floors.
He added that local fire civil servants and government construction workers had been in to touch with the building’s self-proclaimed representatives in the days before the fire broke out.
“It is very unfortunate that such a bad something happened before the improvements could be completed,” said Mr. lin.
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