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46 people died in an overnight fire that raged for hours in Taiwan, sparking a building fire, killing 44

46 people died in an overnight fire that raged for hours in Taiwan, sparking a building fire, killing 44

46 people were killed and 41 others injured in a building fire that raged out of control for hours overnight in KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) Authorities said on Thursday that at least 41 people had been injured or killed in the fire, which erupted in an area known as Kaohsiung.

As firefighters tried to contain the blaze from the street and aerial platforms in the city of Kaohsiung, flames and smoke spewed from below the 13-story building. A fire department statement described the fire, which began at 3 a.m., as "extremely intense" and stated that several floors had been destroyed.

During the day, rescue workers searched the combined commercial and residential buildings, and the death toll increased steadily. 32 bodies have been sent to the morgue, and a further 14 people who showed no signs of life are among 55 taken to hospital. By late afternoon, authorities said that 32 people were found dead, while 58 people with no sign of being alive were taken into the hospital by late evening. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death is given at the hospital.

After midnight, firefighters could be seen spraying water into the middle floors of the still smoldering building from high aerial platforms. One woman, who was not identified, said on Taiwanese TV that her 60-to-70-year-old parents were still inside.

According to Taiwans Central News Agency, the building's age and piles of debris that restrict access to many areas hampered search and rescue efforts.

Many of the residents of a 40-year-old building were elderly and lived alone in 13 square meters (140 square feet), according to local media. According to the Central News Agency, the building had 120 residential units on the upper floors, as well as a closed movie theater, abandoned restaurants, and karaoke clubs beneath them.

According to the United Daily News, fire extinguishers had been installed last month, but only three per floor because residents could not afford to pay more.

According to Taiwanese media, the fire appeared to have started on the ground floor.

The United Daily News reported that investigators were focusing on a first-floor tea shop whose owner reportedly fought with his girlfriend earlier on Wednesday. The newspaper stated that they had not excluded arson.

64 people were killed in a 1995 fire at otachung nightclub, Taiwan's third-largest city, making it Taiwans deadliest such disaster in recent times.

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