Taipei - At least 12 people were killed and 60 injured when a blaze tore through a hospital in southern Taiwan on Tuesday, health authorities said.
The fire started in the early hours in a nursing facility housing mainly bed-bound senior patients in Tainan city and more than 100 patients were evacuated during the incident, a local health official said.
An earlier estimate by an official had placed the number of injured at 72 but this was revised down in a health department statement.
The cause of all the deaths was believed to be smoke inhalation while the injured were rushed to a dozen hospitals for treatment, the official said.
It was the worst hospital fire in recent years and the cause of the fire is under investigation, she said.
A fire official told reporters that the blaze possibly started in a storage room on the second floor of the five-floor building, part of the public Sinying Hospital.
Television footage showed the burnt-out second floor and bed- and wheelchair-bound patients being carried out to the hospital's lawn.
Relatives of the patients rushed to the hospital seeking their whereabouts as health minister Chiu Wen-ta assured the public that the authorities will identify the patients as soon as possible, according to TVBS cable news channel.
Premier Sean Chen expressed his shock at the incident and sent his condolences to the families of the victims, his office said in a statement.