A fire has ripped through a 20-storey apartment building, prompting a major emergency response and a rapid search for residents.

Fire ripped through a 20-storey residential building in Milan, northern Italy, on Sunday, leaving rescue workers scrambling to make sure no one had been caught in the spectacular flames and thick smoke.

The blaze started on the upper floors of the tower on the southern outskirts of the capital of the Lombardy region.

“The flames then spread to the lower levels,” causing thick smoke, the fire services said on a Twitter account.

Residents of the building which houses around 70 families were being contacted but no one had so far been identified as missing, they added.

“The firemen are going from apartment to apartment, knocking down doors to make sure no one remains inside,” Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“But we are optimistic because people had time to get out,” he added.

The daily said about 20 residents suffered slight smoke inhalation.

The Central Emergency Department for Milan confirmed the flames were now under control after the fire broke out at around 5.30pm.

The fire broke out on the top floors of the building and then spread to the lower levels.

More than 50 firefighters have made their way to the upper floors of the building, with 15 fire engines used to tackle the blaze.

The road was closed to traffic to allow the emergency services to work and has also been covered with debris, including the burning cladding of the tower.

Beppe Sala, Mayor of Milan, told Milano Today: “For now we have no reports of victims or injured.

The building has several floors for residents, and is also understood to include two underground floors for garages, parking spaces and cellars.

– with AFP, The Sun

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