TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A Burmese man is suspected to have deliberately started the massive blaze which claimed the lives of nine people and injured two in New Taipei City's Zhonghe District last night (Nov. 22), reported CNA.
At 8 p.m. last night a massive fire was reported in a four story apartment building on Section 2 of Xingnan Road in Zhonghe District, according to New Taipei's fire department official. By the time fire fighters extinguished the blaze an hour later, two bodies were found to be burned beyond recognition, seven were rushed to the hospital where they later perished, and two suffered minor injuries.
After reviewing CCTV video footage just prior to the start of the fire, police spotted a 49-year-old Chinese-Burmese man identified as Li Kuo-hui (李國輝) dumping plastic bottles with a flammable substance on debris in the fourth floor stairwell of the apartment before igniting it with a lighter. The fire soon spread throughout the fourth floor and illegal fifth floor addition.
After being taken in for questioning for police, Li said that he had been engaged in an ongoing dispute with a fellow fourth floor tenant surnamed Hu (胡), and in an apparent attempt to get revenge, he had intentionally set the fire. According to an initial investigation by the police, Li went to a gas station a few days ago and where he filled plastic bottles full of gasoline.
Li then set the bottles by the door before he decided to start the fire last night. Police say that he has a record of committing arson twice in the past, and is currently in police custody undergoing further questioning.
Suspect pictured on right. (CNA image)
Scene of last night's fire in New Taipei City. (CNA image)