By YU-HUAY SUN
Blasts caused by leaked gas overnight in Taiwans
biggest port city killed at least 24 people and injured about
271, in what local television described as the nations
deadliest gas explosion.
The blasts in Kaohsiung started just before midnight after
reports of gas leaks began from 8:46 p.m., the National Fire
Agency said in a statement on its website. Four policemen and
fire fighters are among the dead, it said in a text message.
Images aired by broadcaster ETTV showed vehicles flipped on
their sides as fires blazed in the early morning darkness,
with Sanlih Television showing a car lodged in the third
floor of a building. Part of a city street at least a block
long was caved in, and store front windows were broken.
Rescue workers were shown on TVBS combing through the rubble
of homes looking for survivors.
The causes of the explosions are still being investigated
with initial assessments suggesting they followed a leak of
propylene, a gas used to make plastics and fabrics,
Taiwans Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch
said in a televised briefing. The fires are now under
Kaohsiung resident Sydney Chen posted on his Facebook profile
that he felt an explosion that resembled an earthquake before
hearing screams from the street. His electricity was knocked
out and he woke up his family to leave their home, according
to the post.
The blasts cut gas supplies to 23,600 households, power to
7,536 households and 8,000 homes were without water as of
9:30 a.m., according to a statement on the Taiwan Ministry of
Injured bystanders were shown resting in cars and nearby
residents assembled makeshift stretchers to carry others to
safety, Formosa Television showed. In all, 1,212 residents
were relocated to safe places, according to the city
Southern Taiwans Kaohsiung is the site of two of
state-run CPC Corp.s oil refineries as well as its
naphtha crackers. The company halted some petrochemical
the blasts, company spokesman Chang Ray-chung said by phone.
CPC and Formosa Petrochemical Corp. are Taiwans two
major propylene producers. The island also imports the
Checks indicated a large amount of propylene likely leaked to
sewage pipes, where the explosions occurred, Kaohsiung city
spokesman Ting Yun-kung said by phone. An initial check
showed a pipe linking China General Terminal &
Distribution Corp. and LCY Chemical Corp. had an
abnormal pressure drop, Ting said.
LCY Chemical tumbled by the 7% daily limit in Taipei trading
as of 12:08 p.m. local time. China Petrochemical
which also runs propylene pipes through Kaohsiung, fell 4.9%
and Hsin-Kao Gas Co. lost 2%. Taiwans benchmark Taiex
index fell 0.5%.
Taipei-based LCY Chemical said its pipes located close to
some of the explosion sites appear to be intact.
halted a pipeline
running through the blast sites as a precautionary measure,
Vice President Jason Yu said by phone. Yu said the blasts
didnt occur in the companys pipes.
Hsin-Kao Gas, a liquefied petroleum gas distributor based in
Kaohsiung, halted gas supplies to about 23,000 customers on
safety concerns, according to a stock exchange filing. The
company doesnt have pipes running through the explosion
sites, Hsin-Kao said.