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At least 46 dead after fire torches 13-story building in southern Taiwan

At least 46 dead after fire torches 13-story building in southern Taiwan
Firefighters use water cannons to extinguish a fire at a commercial and residential building in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Thursday. Photo by Kaohsiung Fire Bureau/EPA-EFE

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Authorities in Taiwan say that nearly 50 people died Thursday after a fire broke out in a 13-story building.

Officials said the fire began early Thursday in the building in the Yancheng district of the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung.

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At least 46 people died and dozens were injured, authorities said.

The fire is said to be Taiwan's deadliest in decades. Officials were working to determine if others are still trapped inside the building.

It's not yet known what caused the blaze. Firefighters on Thursday battled the fire for hours.

Investigators are looking into reports that dozens of low-income residents lived on some of the higher floors, including elderly and disabled people. It's also been reported that the building was popular among squatters, they said.

The building, which is the third-largest in Kaohsiung, began deteriorating after another fire in 1999 and portions remained unoccupied. Restaurants, lounges and a movie theater once occupied the building in its heyday.

More recent images of the building showed its dangerous safety conditions, including exposed power lines, debris and crumbling water lines.

A similar fire at a so-called "ghost building" in Oakland, Calif., in 2016 killed 36 people.

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