Wed, Jul 19, 2017 - Page 1 News List

One dead, 15 hurt in Taichung blast

FANNING THE FLAMES:Investigators suspect that the explosion was caused by the spark from an electrical fan used to disperse a leak from a restaurant gas cylinder

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Firefighters remove gas canisters thought to have caused an explosion from the scene in Taichung’s Fengjia District yesterday.

Photo: Liao Hui-tung, Taipei Times

One woman was killed and 15 people were injured in a gas explosion in Taichung’s Fengjia Commercial District (逢甲商圈) yesterday, with the suspected mishandling of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cylinder by a restaurant employee thought to be the cause, officials said.

The incident occurred shortly after noon yesterday, with the blast and causing a fire that burned several buildings, causing major damage, as well as destroying a number of parked cars and motorcycles.

Firefighters and police helped evacuate people from the area, with the body of one woman recovered late in the afternoon.

Fifteen people were taken to local hospitals with burns and related injuries, with two people sustaining burns to about 90 percent of their bodies.

The area is popular among students and young people and has a number of restaurants, retail stores and entertainment facilities at the Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市), which is close to Feng Chia University (逢甲大學).

Video footage of the incident showed smoke filling a narrow street as flames rise from buildings and pedestrians and motorcyclists flee the scene.

Taichung Fire Department chief Hsiao Huan-chang (蕭煥章) said three buildings were in flames when firefighters arrived.

They worked to extinguish the blaze and attended to five injured people in the area, he said, adding that firefighters used ladders to evacuate four people who were trapped in buildings, and treated six people for smoke inhalation.

Hsiao said 23 fire engines with 69 firefighters responded to the incident and brought the blaze under control in about 30 minutes.

The identity of the deceased is yet to be confirmed, he added.

It is suspected that a restaurant employee who was changing a gas cylinder did not properly close the valve, resulting in a leak, Hsiao said.

The employee reportedly tried to disperse the gas with an electric fan, which could have caused the explosion if the fan produced an electrical spark, officials said.

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and deputy mayors Lin Yi-ying (林依瑩) and Chang Kuang-yao (張光瑤) last night visited hospitals where the injured people were being treated.

Lin Chia-lung said the streets surrounding the area where the explosion took place were still restricted to public access, as officials were investigating the scene to determine the cause of the incident.

Lin Chia-lun asked the public to stay away from the area to avoid interfering with the investigation.

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