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September 26, 2017

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Fire strikes another Taiwan nursing home, killing 4 and injuring over 50

Fire struck yet another nursing home in Taiwan on Friday, this time killing at least four people and injuring more than 50 in a Pingtung facility.

About 150 seniors were in Nanmen Nursing Home when the fire broke out just before 5 a.m.

Four burned to death in their beds on the second floor of the three-story home and 55 were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

Police are probing the cause of the fire, with preliminary investigations pointing to a faulty electrical wiring.

Nanmen Nursing Home was also understaffed on the night of the fire, said Tsai Shu-feng (蔡淑鳳), director-general of the Health Ministry's Department of Nursing and Health Care.

Tsai reported Friday that at the time of the fire, only two nurses and six attendants were on duty — three staff members short of the legal requirement.

Established in 2004 by a private hospital, the nursing home is Pingtung's largest, with 153 residents.

Sixth Nursing Home Fire in Five Years

The incident occurred just two months after a blaze killed four at a retirement home in Taoyuan's Longtan District.

In the past five years alone, there have been at least six major fires at nursing homes.

In most cases, the toll of the inferno was exacerbated by the limited mobility of the residents, the location of their rooms and the inadequate staff response.

A fire last summer killed six at a nursing home on the eighth floor of a New Taipei City building. The wiring of an exhaust fan had sparked, sending flames ripping through a center that was filled with clutter, according to police.

Only four staff members were on duty at the time of the fire, though the center was legally required to have nine.

About 40 physically immobile seniors could not be evacuated from the building in time.

In December 2015, a heater caught fire and sent the fire department rushing to evacuate the 157 residents of a nursing center.

In May 2014, 12 were hurt when a Tainan nursing home was struck by arson.

The arsonist was an employee who told police that she was angered by the long work hours.

In October 2012, another Tainan nursing home was struck by arson, this time by one of its elderly residents.

That fire was started on the second floor and many of the occupants could not be evacuated in time, resulting in 13 dead from smoke inhalation and 55 injured.

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