Gas blasts kill 24, injure 271 in Taiwan

Gas blasts kill 24, injure 271 in Taiwan

KAOHSIUNG - Agence France-Presse
Gas blasts kill 24, injure 271 in Taiwan

Flames from an explosion from an underground gas leak in the streets of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Aug. 1. AP Photo

A series of powerful gas blasts killed at least 24 people and injured up to 271 in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, overturning cars and ripping up roads, officials said on Aug. 1.

The explosions sparked a massive inferno that tore through the city’s Cianjhen district, sending terrified residents fleeing a huge ball of flames.

“The blasts late Thursday killed at least 24 people and left 271 others injured,” the National Fire Agency said, adding that the wounded were being rushed to hospitals across the port city mostly with burn injuries.         

Witnesses reported seeing dead bodies littered on the streets, with the fire raging through the night.
The explosions, believed to have been triggered by gas leaking from underground pipelines, were powerful enough to upturn cars and tear open paved roads. One street had been split along its length, swallowing fire engines and other vehicles.

A Kaohsiung city government official said the blazes had mostly been extinguished or burned themselves out by the morning of second day but a few fires were continuing.

Local media reported that emergency rooms in Kaohsiung city hospitals were packed with casualties and officials warned that the death toll was expected to rise.

The local government were evacuating more than 1,100 residents from the impacted areas to schools and shelters as they tried to locate the source of the leaks and warned people to stay away.