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Deadly blaze highlights risks of Taiwan's 'ghost buildings'

Weak incentives to improve safety put hundreds more condominiums at risk

TAIPEI -- A fire that raged through the abandoned lower floors of the 13-story Chengzhongcheng building in Taiwan's southern port city of Kaohsiung left the condominium's last hundred or so residents trapped at the top as smoke and heat poured in.

Firefighters had difficulty reaching residents, many of whom are elderly or disabled, due to large stacks of debris and other refuse on unoccupied levels, according to local media. Once they reached the residential levels, they still had to discern which of the hundreds of apartments were empty and which were occupied.

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