Sat, Nov 03, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Illegal fireworks factory explodes in Miaoli County

DRAMATIC Four people were killed and five injured when the factory exploded in a fireball in Houlung Township at about 10

AGENCIES , TAIPEI

At least four people were killed and five injured when a fireworks factory exploded early yesterday in Miaoli.

TV stations showed black smoke and flames spewing from the burnt out remains of the factory in Houlung Township (後龍), Miaoli County.

"Four people have already died and five others were injured, including two in critical condition," a police officer said.

He said the explosion occurred at 10:05am at the illegal factory operating at the site of an abandoned pottery plant in a paddy field.

More than 20 fire engines rushed to the scene.

DEAD

The four dead included one woman, Tang Ming-chieh (湯明潔), 30, and three men: Liu Cheng-hsien (劉政憲), 42, Hsieh Fu-tsai (謝富才), 30, and Lee Chin-wan (李進萬), 41.

The injured included 58-year-old Hsieh Hsueh-lo (謝學樓), who is in charge of the factory.

Neighboring households reported that they had no idea what kinds of products were being produced at the factory.

`EARTHQUAKE'

Some residents told TV reporters that they first thought there had been an earthquake when the explosion occurred.

They said they were stunned when the glass in their windows shattered.

Speaking from his hospital bed, an unidentified witness told cable news station SET that the blast had struck with startling suddenness.

"First I felt an `earthquake' for one second, and then I heard three explosions," he said.

"Next everything was gone: windows, glass and the entire factory. I am still shaking from the shock," the witness said.

Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) said later yesterday that he had given instructions for the formation of a task force to crack down on illegal firecracker factories.

Firefighters said they were still investigating the cause of the explosion.

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