A resident fleeing a burning building in Kaohsiung found the exits blocked, but still made it out safely, while at least 46 residents died in the fire.
The blaze in the 40-year-old Cheng Chung Cheng (城中城) building on Fubei Road in Yancheng District (鹽埕) was extinguished at 7:17am, about four hours after the Kaohsiung Fire Bureau was notified of the fire at 2:54am.
Outside the building, a resident surnamed Mao (毛) shared how he and other residents living on the ninth floor escaped the fire.
Mao said that he was woken by shouts and other noises from outside, when he saw thick smoke was rising in front of his window.
“I rushed out with my cellphone to take an elevator without a second thought,” Mao said.
However, after he and his neighbors made it to the first floor, they were unable to leave the building, as fire blocked the exits.
They climbed down the stairs to the basement, from where they managed to safely leave the building shortly before power to the building was cut, he said.
A woman surnamed Tai (戴), who lives and works in Tainan, heard about the fire and hurried back to Kaohsiung to look for her family — parents and two older brothers, who live in the building.
Tai in the afternoon said that rescuers had yet to find her parents, who live on the eighth floor, expressing concern about their safety, as both are in their 70s and have mobility impairments.
One of Tai’s brothers, who lives on the 10th floor, was rescued and taken to a hospital with mild symptoms of smoke inhalation, Tai said.
She added that her other brother, who lives with her parents, was at work when the fire started.
A woman living across the road said that she heard noises that she believed were explosions.
She went downstairs to have a look and found the first floor of the neighboring building engulfed in flames.
The fire bureau said it suspects that the fire started on the first floor, while the cause is has yet to be determined, the bureau added.
As of press time yesterday, the blaze had claimed at least 46 lives and injured 41, the fire bureau said.
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