A fire in southern Taiwan that engulfed a building overnight has killed 25 people, according to local officials Thursday who said they expected the death toll to rise further. The 13-story building caught fire around 3am Thursday, fire officials in the city of Kaohsiung said. A fire department statement said the blaze was "extremely fierce" and destroyed many floors. At least 11 bodies were sent straight to the morgue, Fire Chief Li Ching-hsiu told reporters at the scene. Another 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55 taken to the hospital. Li said search and rescue operations are still underway and the death toll could surpass 40, the AP reports.
Video shown on Taiwanese television showed orange flames and smoke billowing out of the lower floors of the building as firefighters sprayed water at it from the street. After daybreak, they could be seen spraying water into the middle floors of the still smoldering building from elevated platforms. The cause of the fire was unclear, but firefighters noted the flames burned most intensely where a lot of clutter had been piled up, the fire department statement said. Eyewitnesses told Taiwan media that they heard an explosion around 3am.
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