The building’s age and piles of debris blocking access to many areas complicated search and rescue efforts

A building fire that raged out of control for hours overnight in a major city in southern Taiwan left 46 people dead and at least 41 others injured, authorities said Thursday, AP reports.

Flames and smoke billowed from the lower floors of the 13-story building as firefighters tried to douse the blaze from the street and aerial platforms in the city of Kaohsiung. A fire department statement described the fire, which started about 3 a.m., as “extremely fierce” and said several floors had been destroyed.

The death toll rose steadily during the day as rescue workers searched the combined commercial and residential building. By late afternoon, authorities said 32 bodies had been sent to the morgue, while a further 14 people who showed no signs of life were among 55 taken to the hospital. In Taiwan, official confirmation of a death is made at the hospital.

After daybreak, firefighters could be seen spraying water into the middle floors of the still smoldering building from high aerial platforms. One woman, who was not identified, said on Taiwanese TV that her 60-to-70 year old parents were still inside.

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