Taipei, Aug 13: At least nine people have been killed and 15 others have been injured after a fire broke out today at a hospice for the terminally ill near Taiwan’s capital Taipei. The fire officials evacuated the hospice which consisted of nearly 36 people, including three staff after the fire started at the hospice on the seventh floor of a nine-storey hospital in New Taipei city.

As per the local fire department, the nine died because of smoke inhalation while sixteen had cardiac arrests out of which seven were revived. Of the fifteen injured, 11 are said to be critical.

The new Taipei fire department chief Huang Te-ching said the cause of the fire was still being investigated and denied reports that the sprinkler system had malfunctioned. “The sprinkler device was on but there’s some distance between its location and where the fire started so the fire couldn’t be immediately put out,” Huang Te-ching told reporters.

CCTV footage on local media showed staff rushing through the hospice corridors, carrying patients out in their arms or in wheelchairs to evacuate them after the fire broke out. The injured were rushed to several nearby hospitals. Local media quoted some patients’ relatives saying they heard a blast and suspected that an oxygen tank might have exploded, causing the fire.

Premier William Lai apologised to the public and expressed condolences over the tragedy. “We will review the cause of the incident to prevent a similar situation from happening again,” he said.

With inputs from PTI.