Couple questioned over Taiwan blaze that killed 46

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A local couple has been interrogated about a blaze in Kaohsiung City in southern Taiwan that killed 46 people, state-run media reported Friday.

The fire broke out in a 13-storey, 40-year-old building in Kaohsiung City on Thursday, killing at least 46 people and leaving another 41 injured.

Police said that shortly before the fire, the man and the woman were drinking and had an argument in a room on the building’s ground floor, where a totally burnt incense burner and cans were found, the Central News Agency reported.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday demanded that the government investigate the cause of the deadly blaze as soon as possible.

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Xavier Chang said that Tsai had instructed the authorities to help the injured and families of the victims as much as possible.

Tsai also demanded a thorough review of related regulations on ageing buildings.

The building, which sits in Kaohsiung’s declining Yancheng district, has been home to economically disadvantaged families and older people with mobility difficulties since shops, theatres and entertainment venues in its lower floors gradually closed about twenty years ago.

“We all are deeply saddened by this fire accident (…) I won’t dodge responsibilities that I should take,” Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai said at a hospital where he visited the injured survivors of the fire.

Chen also visited a municipal funeral home to extend his condolences to victims’ families.

Tsai and some officials including Chen announced that they planned to donate a month’s salary to the city’s relief fund.

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