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Fire kills 46, injures dozens in southern Chinese Taipei building

At least 46 people have lost their lives and dozens more have been injured in a fire that broke out in a residential building in southern Chinese Taipei, officials say.

The fire occurred in the 4-decade-old Cheng Chung Cheng building in the Yancheng district of the southern city of Kaohsiung in the early hours of Thursday, officials said.

Nearly 80 others were injured in the blaze at the 13-story tower building, and 14 of the wounded were in serious condition.

According to the local fire department, it took firefighters over four hours to finally extinguish the blaze, at around dawn.

The residential and commercial building, whose lower section used to host restaurants, karaoke lounges, and a cinema, was partly abandoned, Mayor Chen Chi-mai said.

The inhabitants of the building had previously received warnings from authorities that they might be trapped in the residential part of the block, between the seventh and 11th floors, in case of fire.

It is not yet clear what caused the fire, which is currently under investigation.

Nearby residents told local media that they had heard a loud bang that sounded like an explosion before the blaze.

“The power lines may have been outside… these past few days there have been ‘boom’ sounds from the power [lines],” one resident told Reuters.

A number of residents in the block of about 120 apartments are thought to be old or to have disabilities.

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