Taiwan ‘Gas Explosions’ Kill 15, Injure 228 [Breaking]

Several gas explosions in Taiwan killed at least 15 people and injured more than 228 others early Friday morning. The explosions happened in the southern city of Kaohsiung and triggered a massive inferno. Eyewitnesses reported seeing several bodies littered on the streets.

The National Fire Agency reported that five firefighters were among the dead. Video from Taiwanese broadcaster ETTV showed a massive fire burning in the middle of the street while smoke rose high into the night sky. The force of the initial blast felled trees lining the street, shattering windows and flipping cars over.

Channel News Asia reports that the National Fire Agency reported, “At least 228 people who were injured have been rushed to hospitals for treatment.”

In a statement to BBC, the National Fire Agency explained, “The local fire department received calls of gas leaks late Thursday and then there was a series of blasts around midnight affecting an area of two to three sq km (one sq mile).”

Residents were ordered to stay home from school in Kaohsiung’s Lingya district.

Before the explosion, witnesses reported a “gas-like smell” and smoke was seen coming out of drains in the streets. Mobile phone video of the gas explosions showed flames leaping at least 30 feet into the air. Power was cut off in the city, making it difficult for rescue crews to search for survivors.

Emergency workers rushed to the scene of the gas explosions and were removing bodies from the area. Local media reported that emergency rooms in the city’s hospitals were packed with casualties, while officials warned people to stay out of the area. Local schools were reopened for people to take shelter in case more explosions ripped through the city.

Photos and videos of the destruction in Kaohsiung appeared to show massive holes in the city’s streets and huge flames lighting up the sky. One witness told CNA, “I saw fire spurting, ripping off some covers of ditches. It was terrifying.” Some witnesses initially thought poisonous gas leaked from the old railway and a construction site of the city’s light rapid transit system. However, it now appears the Taiwan explosions were caused by natural gas pipelines running under the city streets.

The blasts were felt in at least four areas of the port city, which is home to more than 2.7 million people.

The death toll for the Taiwan gas explosions will likely rise as crews continue to search for casualties.

[Image via Twitter]

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