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20 killed, 270 injured in Kaohsiung gas explosions (update)
Central News Agency
2014-08-01 06:57 AM
Taipei, Aug. 1 (CNA) Twenty people were killed and 270 others injured in multiple gas explosions in the southern city of Kaohsiung overnight, the National Fire Agency said early Friday. The number of casualties in one of Taiwan's worst accidents of this kind included 26 volunteer firefighters, according to the latest figures released by the agency at 5:15 a.m. The series of explosions and subsequent fire, which began late Thursday, were reportedly caused by gas or oil leakage underground and not connected to terrorism. Several petrochemical plants are located in Kaohsiung. It is not known which of the companies' pipelines is to blame for the explosions, which ripped through several streets in the southern port city. Many of the casualties involved emergency response personnel as the first explosion occurred when they tried to contain a gas-related incident on a busy street in the city's Cianjhen District. As of early Friday, search and rescue efforts were still going on. Offices and schools in Cianjhen and Lingya Districts were shut down Friday to facilitate emergency work, Mayor Chen Chu said. The city government designated a cultural center and eight schools to be used as emergency shelters. The number of houses damaged or destroyed was not immediately known. Firefighters from neighboring Tainan City and Pingtung County, as well as hundreds of troops were called in to help as President Ma Ying-jeou ordered "full-gear rescue efforts." (By Lin Chang-shun and Jay Chen)
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