TAIPEI: Nine people died and 15 were injured after a fire broke out at a hospice in northern Taiwan on Monday (Aug 13).
The fire started at about 4.30am in Xinzhuang, New Taipei City. Authorities said the fire started on the seventh floor of the nine-storey hospice.
All 36 people inside, including three staff, were evacuated after the fire started.
Sixteen people suffered cardiac arrests; seven were revived while the other nine died with the cause of death given as smoke inhalation, according to the local fire department.
Photos posted onto Facebook by the New Taipei City Fire Department showed the blaze had engulfed at least two rooms in the hospice.
New Taipei fire department chief Huang Te-ching said the cause of the fire was still being investigated and denied reports that the sprinkler system had malfunctioned.
“The sprinkler device was on but there’s some distance between its location and where the fire started so the fire couldn’t be immediately put out,” he told reporters.
CCTV footage on local media showed staff rushing through the hospice corridors, carrying patients out in their arms or in wheelchairs to evacuate them after the fire broke out.
The injured were rushed to several nearby hospitals.
The 15 injured remain in hospital, with 11 listed as in serious condition.
All of the 36 people inside, including three staff, were evacuated. AFP/CNA PHOTO
Local media quoted several patients’ relatives saying that they heard a blast and suspected that an oxygen tank might have exploded, causing the fire.
The fire was extinguished almost one hour after it started, with more than 200 firefighters and 76 fire engines deployed.
Premier William Lai apologised to the public and expressed condolences over the tragedy.
“We will review the cause of the incident to prevent a similar situation from happening again,” he said.
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