Officials: At least 46 dead in fire at Taiwan residential building

A fire in southern Taiwan has killed at least 46 and injured dozens of people after it engulfed a residential building overnight on Thursday.

The 13-story building caught on fire around 3 a.m., fire department officials in the city of Kaohsiung said.

Officials said dozens of people had been taken to the hospital. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death can only be made in the hospital.

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Firefighters were conducting search and rescue efforts into the afternoon.

The blaze was "extremely fierce," and destroyed many floors of the building, according to a statement from the fire department. Firefighters are unsure of the source of the fire, but noted flames burned most intensely where a lot of clutter had been piled up.

Eyewitnesses told local media that they had heard the sound of an explosion around 3 a.m.

The building is about 40 years old, according to an official statement, with shops in the lower levels and apartments above. While the fire has been put out, the lower levels of the building were completely blackened.