Explosions caused by leaked gas in Taiwan’s second-largest city killed at least 22 people and injured about 270 late yesterday, the National Fire Agency said.
The fire department in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s biggest port, received reports of gas leaks from 8:46 p.m., followed by multiple fires and explosions that occurred from just before midnight, the agency said in a statement on its website. Four policemen and fire fighters are among the dead, it said in a mobile phone text message sent today.
Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch said in a televised briefing this morning that while the cause of the blasts hadn’t yet been determined, initial assessments suggested they were caused by a leak of propylene, which is used in the production of plastics and fabrics, and not the petroleum gas commonly used as fuel in homes.
Footage aired by broadcaster ETTV showed vehicles flipped on their sides by the blast in the early morning as fires blazed in the darkness. Rescue workers were shown in footage aired by TVBS combing through the rubble of homes looking for survivors this morning.
Southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung is the site of two of state-run CPC Corp.’s oil refineries as well as its naphtha crackers. Hsin-Kao Gas Co., a liquefied petroleum gas distributor based in the city, halted gas supplies to about 23,000 customers on safety concerns, it said today.
Hsin-Kao Gas doesn’t have pipes running through the explosion sites, the company said in a statement to Taiwan’s stock exchange. The company is assessing its financial losses from the blasts.