Arson suspected as Taiwan hospital fire kills 12

A blaze tore through a Taiwan hospital for bed-bound seniors and mentally ill patients Tuesday, killing 12 and injuring 60, with police reportedly arresting a patient suspected of starting the fire.

The fire erupted before dawn at Beimen nursing facility in south Taiwan's Tainan city, whose 115 patients included people in their 90s, with several left on their own to escape dense smoke that filled the building.

Local media said police had arrested a person believed to be a hospital patient on suspicion of starting the blaze -- Taiwan's worst hospital fire in years. Police and prosecutors declined to comment.

Closed-circuit TV footage taken moments after the blaze broke out showed hospital staff scrambling to put out the fire, while elderly patients struggled to escape down the corridor in their wheelchairs.

"My mother saw the fire and smelled the smoke so she got on her wheelchair and pushed herself out. She is very brave and very lucky," the daughter of 94-year-old survivor Wang Ho-shou told AFP.

Another patient told Central News Agency he was lucky to escape the fire as he was able to walk on his own and was later rescued by firefighters.

"It was pitch black and the heavy smoke was unbearable, it was really horrifying," he was quoted by the agency as saying.

The United Evening News said four patients lost their lives at the nursing facility, while eight others died after being taken to other hospitals in the area. The deaths were believed to be caused by smoke inhalation.

Television footage showed rescuers and hospital staff pushing out unconscious patients in their wheelchairs or beds, with many laid out on the lawn in front of the building as they tried to resuscitate the serious cases with CPR.

One crying woman was shown clutching the hand of an elderly man who lay lifeless in his pyjamas at the hospital entrance.

Fire officials said the fire possibly started in a crammed storage room on the second floor of the five-floor building, a branch of the public Sinying Hospital.

Premier Sean Chen expressed his shock, while President Ma Ying-jeou sent his condolences to the families of the victims, according to government statements.

"President Ma... has instructed the health department to provide emergency shelter and follow-up treatment," his office said in a statement.

Tainan mayor Lai Ching-te told reporters that the fire was unusually deadly because the hospital was in a relatively remote area and most of the patients were immobile.

Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta sought to pacify anxious relatives of patients who rushed to the hospital, saying that authorities were trying to identify the dead and injured as soon as possible, according to TVBS cable news channel.

Chiu also announced that an island-wide check on fire equipment in all medical facilities will be conducted this week, though there has been no suggestion so far that faulty equipment was to blame for this incident.

Relatives complained that they only learned about the fire on television since the hospital failed to notify the families.

"I asked hospital staff where my parents were, and they said they didn't know. They had not written down the names of any of those hospitalised," one of them said, sobbing.

By afternoon, some relatives had arrived at a local funeral home to identify the bodies of their loved ones as social and charity workers offered support.

The fire also raised concerns in the local media about whether staffing had been sufficient, as there were only six staff on night duty for the 70 patients on the second floor where the fire appeared to have started.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • China says U.S. actions in S.China Sea "irresponsible, dangerous"
    China says U.S. actions in S.China Sea "irresponsible, dangerous"

    By Sui-Lee Wee BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Friday it was "strongly dissatisfied" after a U.S. military plane flew over part of the South China Sea near where China is building artificial islands, and called on the United States to stop such action or risk causing an accident. The Chinese navy issued eight warnings to the U.S. P8-A Poseidon, the U.S. military's most advanced surveillance aircraft, when it conducted the overflights on Wednesday, according to CNN, which had a team on board …

  • 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena
    2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena

    The smell of burnt rubber and screeching tires are some of the highlights that will be seen at the most adrenaline-pumped drifting event of the year—the 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift Championship series.   Held at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, the event will be the biggest venue in the drifting competition. This is the […] The post 2015 Hyundai Lateral Drift goes to Philippine Arena appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • The Richest Senators In The Philippines
    The Richest Senators In The Philippines

    The 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth for politicians and public servants are now available for anyone to … The post The Richest Senators In The Philippines appeared first on iMoney.ph. …

  • PHILIPPINES PRESS-AirAsia Philippines seeks $500 mln valuation for IPO - Inquirer

    The Philippine unit of Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia Berhad is seeking a valuation of at least $500 million for its initial public offering set within the next two years, the Philippine Daily Inquirer ... …

  • Consultant, facing joblessness, claims P5.9-M lotto pot
    Consultant, facing joblessness, claims P5.9-M lotto pot

    A 39-year-old information technology consultant, whose job contract will expire this month, has claimed his share of the 6/45 Mega Lotto’s P17.8-million jackpot in its May 13 draw, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced yesterday. “I could not sleep for the past several days, thinking about where I could get the money to pay my children’s tuition,” the winner told PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II when he received a check for P5.9 million at the PCSO’s central …

  • Cager’s daughter: I will never drive again
    Cager’s daughter: I will never drive again

    Kim Asaytono vowed never to get behind the wheel again after she hit 14 people on Tuesday night and killed one of them. Even if she gets out of jail one day, the 22-year-old daughter of former Philippine Basketball Association player Nelson Asaytono said she no longer wants to drive. Maybe, I will still ride a car but I will never drive again,” she told The STAR in an interview in her jail cell at the Manila Police District headquarters. …

  • Disaster center to rise in Clark
    Disaster center to rise in Clark

    The private sector is set to build a disaster operations center near Clark international airport in Pampanga to strengthen the country’s preparedness against natural calamities. In his closing remarks during a two-day Earthquake Resilience Conference, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan said yesterday the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) would build the center that would serve as base for immediate response to a disaster. Pangilinan, co-chair of the PDRF, said the disaster …

  • China shoos away US plane in disputed sea
    China shoos away US plane in disputed sea

    The Chinese navy warned a US surveillance plane flying over artificial islands that Beijing is creating in the disputed South China Sea to leave the area eight times, according to CNN, which was on board the flight on Wednesday. The P8-A Poseidon, the US military’s most advanced surveillance aircraft, flew at 4,500 meters at its lowest point, CNN said. The incident, along with recent Chinese warnings to Philippine military aircraft to leave areas around the Spratly archipelago in the South …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options