A “fierce” fire at the 13-story building in Yancheng District erupted early in the morning, witnesses reporting hearing an explosion.
A fire at a residential building in southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung city has left at least 46 dead and 41 injured, officials said.
The 13-story building fire in Yancheng District in Kaohsiung broke out on Thursday morning and was extinguished around dawn.
Witnesses told local media that they heard an explosion around 3 a.m. local time (7 p.m. GMT Wednesday).
Kaohsiung firefighters said in a statement that after searching the 40-year-old building, they were able to confirm 46 deaths.
He also 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 the 55 taken to hospital.
Mayor Chen Chi-Mai said the building was partly abandoned, having previously housed restaurants, karaoke lounges and a movie theater.
Authorities have opened an investigation into the cause, including whether the arson was to blame.
The fire department said the flames burned most intensely where a lot of mess had accumulated.
A video shown on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing from the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water on them from the street.
After dawn, they could be seen spraying water into the middle floors of the still smoking building from elevated platforms.