Taiwan's Premier Jiang Yi-huah said at least five blasts shook the streets of Kaohsiung, a southwestern port city of 2.8 million.
Chang Jia-juch, the director of the Central Disaster Emergency Operation Center, said the leaking gas had been identified as propene, meaning that the resulting fires could not be extinguished by water. The source of the leak was unknown.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu said several petrochemical companies have pipelines built along the sewage system in Chian-Chen district, which has both factories and residential buildings.
"Our priority is to save people now. We ask citizens living along the pipelines to evacuate," Chen told TVBS television.
Power was cut off in the area, making it difficult for firefighters to search for others who might be buried in rubble.
CNA said the local fire department received reports from residents of gas leakage at around 8:40 p.m. and the explosions started around midnight.
Video from TVBS showed locals searching for victims in shattered shop fronts. Rescue workers pulled several injured people from the rubble in the center of the road, placing them on stretchers as passers-by helped other victims on the sidewalk.
The explosion left a large trench running down the center of one road, edged with piles of concrete slabs torn apart by the force of the blast.
Source Article: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/20-killed-270-injured-in-taiwan-underground-gas-explosions/
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