Sun, Aug 17, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Woman dies after Sindian blast

LOSS:A New Taipei City firefighter who was forced to leave behind a young boy to save an injured three-year-old girl blames himself for the boy’s death, colleagues said

By Wen Yu-te and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Prosecutors and members of a forensics team yesterday inspect the apartment building in New Taipei City’s Sindian District where a gas explosion occurred on Friday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The death early yesterday of a woman injured in Friday’s gas explosion in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店) raised the number of fatalities to two, according to a hospital in Taipei.

The 59-year-old woman, the only victim sent to Wan Fang Hospital after the explosion, died of her burns and cardiopulmonary failure, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The woman had second and third-degree burns over almost 90 percent of her body, the spokeswoman added.

The blast in the woman’s third-floor apartment caused a fire in the high-rise residential building, according to an initial investigation.

About a dozen other people were injured.

The woman’s 16-month-old grandson was the first casualty. Her other grandchild — a three-year-old girl — suffered second and third-degree burns over 90 percent of her body and remained in critical condition.

Building tenants said they had smelled natural gas on Thursday afternoon and alerted the gas company. Workers sent to the building for inspection did not “take the problem seriously,” residents said on Friday, adding that the workers had described the smell as a “natural biogas” issue.

The gas company involved, Shin Shin Natural Gas Co (欣欣天然氣), cut off the supply of natural gas after the explosion and yesterday began checking its pipelines for breaches.

A prosecutor was at the site yesterday with personnel from the fire and police departments and the gas company to investigate the cause of the explosion.

The fire chief has said that the department will investigate whether the explosion involved a leak from the natural gas pipe leading into the apartments — which would be the responsibility of the gas company — or whether it occurred in the section of pipe inside the building — which would be the responsibility of the residents.

Meanwhile, the New Taipei City Fire Department said the death of the boy has been extremely hard on Chang Yi-peng (張一鵬), a firefighter from the department’s Ankang Precinct (安康) who blamed himself for not being able to save the boy in the house after rescuing the girl.

Chang rushed the three-year-old girl from the room first.

He said that his decision was based on the greatest odds of survival and that the home’s narrow interior did not allow him to carry out both children at once.

Chang’s colleagues said he has a two-year-old son and is expecting a daughter next month, so he could relate to the grief of the boy’s parents.

The fire department said the children’s parents are in the military; their mother serves as a lieutenant, junior grade, in the navy’s Tamsui District (淡水) base and their father is a petty officer second class on a ship in Greater Kaohsiung’s Zuoying District (左營).

Additional reporting by Wu Jen-chieh

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