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5 dead in Taiwan nursing home fire

TAIPEI, Taiwan – A fire that tore through a nursing home killed five people and injured another 29 in Taiwan yesterday.

Television footage showed elderly people being evacuated from the facility, some in clothes blackened by smoke. Three bodies were found in the private nursing facility on the eighth floor of a ten-story building in Xindian, New Taipei City, while rescuers rushed 31 people to hospital.

Two people were later pronounced dead, while 18 were found to be suffering from serious injuries, the local fire department said.

The fire was extinguished in around 30 minutes but the evacuation process was made more difficult by the fact that most elderly residents were bedridden or wheelchair-bound, it added.

Authorities are looking into claims that insufficient staffing at the home had further complicated the rescue effort.

“The facility has passed inspections but we are investigating if its response (to the fire) and the staffing on the day met regulations,” New Taipei City deputy mayor Hou You-yi told reporters.

The facility has seven members of staff, according to the authorities. Local media reported that there were only two or three workers looking after some 40 residents at the time of the fire. (AFP)

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