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Kaohsiung gas explosion kills at least 24 people, 271 injured (Update)
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-01 09:27 AM
A series of gas explosions in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung has killed 22 people and injured about 292 as of 8:30 a.m. Friday, the National Fire Agency said. The Central News Agency reported that firefighters had been at the scene investigating reports of a gas leak when the explosions occurred. Four firefighters are said to be among the dead.

According to CNA, an unknown number of people remained missing, including a senior fire official who went to the scene after 9 p.m. to help determine the source of an apparent gas leak before the first of several explosions occurred.

National Fire Agency stated, "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."

The exact cause of the gas leaks is not clear, but reports say the blasts were caused by ruptured pipelines.

Director of the Central Disaster Emergency Operation Center Chang Jia-juch stated, the gas was identified as propene. Water cannot be used to extinguish remaining fires. Emergency workers will wait until the gas is burnt away.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu stated that a number of petrochemical companies have pipelines built along the sewage system in Chian-Chen district which is a mix commercial and residential district. She further remarked, "The local government has already requested CPC and Hsin Kao Gas cut off the gas supply."

Rescue workers pulled a number of people from the rubble in the center of the road, though power was cut off in the area, making it difficult for firefighters to search for others who might be buried.

Soldiers and firefighters from Tainan and Pingtung have been deployed to assist in rescue efforts.

According to state-media CNA's report on 9 a.m., the death estimate was revised upward to 24 and the number of injuries down to 271.

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