A nursing home resident in Taiwan has admitted to starting a fire where she lived that’s resulted in 12 deaths and more than 60 injuries.
According to Associated Press reports, the suspect in the inferno admitted to authorities on Tuesday that he was responsible for starting the blaze. He said he set the fire around 3 a.m. in the nursing home and was prompted to do so by his struggles with a “protracted illness.” Another report indicates the man who admits to setting the blaze was suffering from cancer.
The nursing home was located on the second floor of Hsinying Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. The man allegedly burned his own clothes and then took refuge during the fire at the hospital, hiding in a storage area.
Many of the victims of the fire were too weak to get out of their beds to escape the flames. Local health officials told reporters on the scene that the 12 fatalities were the result of smoke inhalation. Nursing home staff, including nurses and other personnel, were captured by television news cameras on the scene hurriedly trying to help struggling residents get out of the facility and to safety. Some were seen performing CPR on victims while other residents were wheeled, still in their beds, to areas where the fire had not spread.
At least 100 residents of the nursing home escaped the fire without injuries. Photos taken at the scene show residents who escape the flames being attended to by firefighters as they lay under blankets on the ground.
It took less than an hour to get the flames under control, the report adds.
Unlike in the U.S. where nursing homes have been operating for decades, the concept is rather new in Taiwan, where customs have previously dictated that the elderly are cared for by family members. The day in Taiwan had been highly anticipated by the elderly residents of the nation. It was known as “Day for the Elderly” and included people older than 80 receiving a cash largess equal to about $300 U.S. from the government.