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Fire leaves 25 dead and dozens injured in southern Taiwan

TAIPEI: A fire In southern Taiwan, engulfing a building overnight has killed 25 people, according to local officials who said they expected the death toll to rise further.
The 13-story building caught fire around 3 a.m. Thursday, Kaohsiung City fire officials said. A statement from the fire department said the fire was “extremely fierce” and destroyed many floors.
At least 11 bodies were sent directly 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 the hospital. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death can only be done in the hospital.
Li said the death toll could exceed 40, as firefighters conducted search and rescue efforts into the afternoon.
Video shown on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing from the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water from the street. After sunrise, they could be seen spraying water on the middle floors of the still-smoking building from elevated platforms.
The cause of the fire was unclear, but firefighters noted that the flames were burning most intensely where a large amount of clutter had piled up, according to the fire department statement.
Eyewitnesses told Taiwanese media that they heard an explosion around 3 a.m.
The building is about 40 years old with shops on the lower levels and apartments on the upper levels. The lower floors were completely blackened.


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