Taiwan: More than 40 dead and dozens injured in apartment block fire

Firefighters try to contain the fire that burned overnight

The death toll from a fire that engulfed an apartment building in southern Taiwan has risen to 46, according to local officials.

Another 41 people have been injured.

The 13-storey building caught fire at around 3am on Thursday, fire officials in the city of Kaohsiung said.

A fire department statement said the blaze was “extremely fierce” and destroyed many floors.

At least 32 bodies were sent straight to the morgue, Fire Chief Li Ching-hsiu told reporters at the scene.

Another 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55 taken to hospital. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death can only be made in hospital.

Firefighters battle the blaze Credit: EBC/AP

Taiwanese television showed scenes of orange flames and smoke billowing out of the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water from the street.

After daybreak, they could be seen spraying water into the middle floors of the still smouldering building from elevated platforms.

The cause of the fire was unclear, but firefighters noted the flames burned most intensely where a lot of clutter had been piled up, the fire department statement said.

Witnesses told Taiwanese media they heard an explosion at around 3am.

The building is about 40 years old with shops on the lower levels and apartments above. The lower floors were completely blackened.