Flames tore through an apartment block in the city of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, overnight into Thursday.
At least 14 people were found “without signs of life,” rescuers said. Official confirmation of death in Taiwan can only be made in the hospital.
Around 51 people had been taken to the hospital for treatment of their injuries, the state-run Central News Agency reported, citing a statement issued by the fire department.
Firefighters are unsure of the causes of the fire, but said it had burned most intensely where piles of clutter had been stacked.
What we know about the fire
Kaohsiung’s fire department officials said the “extremely fierce” blaze took hold at about 3 a.m. local time.
The fire was successfully extinguished after about four hours, and rescuers scoured the building in a search for survivors on Thursday morning.
Officials said the building was about 40 years old, with shops in lower levels, empty space above and some 120 households higher up.
The lower levels of the building were left completely blackened.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen urged authorities to help relocate affected families and fully investigate the cause.
rc/fb (AP, dpa)