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One dead, 14 others injured in Xindian gas explosion

2014/08/15 17:50:08

Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) One boy died and 14 others were injured in a gas explosion on the third floor of a residential building in Xindian, New Taipei, at around noon Friday.

The four most seriously injured people in the explosion were a grandmother, a girl and her 16-month-old younger brother, who was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, and a firefighter suffering from burns who fell down an elevator shaft.

Residents of the building said they smelled natural gas Thursday afternoon and reported the situation to the gas company. But the company did not take the problem seriously, explaining it away as a natural "biogas" issue, the residents complained.

The gas company involved, Shin Shin Natural Gas Co., cut off the supply of natural gas after the explosion occurred.

Building residents who were unharmed in the blast described it as feeling like a major earthquake.

One resident surnamed Kao said the windows on the building's first to sixth floors shattered and shards flew as far as 10 meters away.

Firefighters said the explosion originated from a bedroom of a third-floor apartment at a time when the gas stove in that apartment's kitchen was in use.

But the fire chief said they were still investigating whether the leak came from the natural gas pipe leading into the apartment -- which would be the responsibility of the gas company -- or whether it occurred in the section of pipe inside the apartment leading to the kitchen -- which would be the responsibility of the residents.

Shin Shin Natural Gas Co. said the external natural gas pipeline leading to the building looked good and was not compromised in any way.

The explosion occurred at 11:46 a.m. and when firefighters arrived, heavy smoke and fire had covered the building.

Residents complained to New Taipei Deputy Mayor Hou Yu-ih after he arrived at the scene that they reported the gas smell at 3 p.m. Thursday and that the smell became heavier by 6 p.m.. and they wanted to know how to file for compensation.

Ho said the city government will launch an investigation into the accident, but stressed that the most pressing task was to help the injured.

(By Sunrise Huang and Lilian Wu)

●Aug. 16: Another victim dies in New Taipei gas explosion