Fire at a 13-floor tower in Southern Taiwan has killed almost 46 people and seriously injured dozens more.
The local Fire Department said that a residential and commercial building in Kaohsiung city caught fire in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The fire department said that 79 people had been transferred to the hospital, including 14 in a serious condition.
It took firefighters more than four hours to extinguish the blaze. The cause of the fire is unclear and investigators are at the scene.
Officials earlier warned that people may have been trapped in the residential part of the building, between the seventh and 11th floors.
Nearby residents told the local media that they heard a loud blast that sounded like an explosion before the fire.
A resident said, “The power lines may have been outside… these past few days there have been ‘boom’ sounds from the power [lines].”
Piles of unused items on the building’s lower floors made rescue efforts more difficult and fire officials later warned the public not to allow rubbish to accumulate in or around their residences and to keep staircases unobstructed.
A number of residents in the block of about 120 apartments are thought to be old and disable.
The building’s lower section had once housed restaurants, karaoke bars, and a cinema, but they were reported to be not in use any longer.