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Taiwan survivors return after gas blast kills 26

The 12,000 people who fled in fear of more gas pipeline explosions in Taiwan's second-largest city returned to their homes yesterday after authorities said there was no more risk of blasts like the series that ripped apart streets overnight, killing 26 people and injuring 267.

With clean-up work underway in the more than two square kilometers area, investigators were turning to the task of determining the cause of the blasts, the industrial city's worst such disaster in 16 years.

Most of the four ruptured street sections in the densely populated district of Kaohsiung had been declared safe from further explosions by afternoon, a city spokesman said. A fire in a 10-meter -long section that burned through the night had also been put out.

Catapulting

Five explosions ripped through four streets starting around midnight on Thursday, catapulting cars into the air and blasting rubble at passers-byt.

That came about three hours after a gas leak had been reported, but emergency services had been unable to locate the source.

Four firefighters were among the victims and two were missing, while at least six fire trucks were flung into the rubble.

Many of the injured are still receiving medical treatment.

"Last night around midnight, the house started shaking and
I thought it was a huge earthquake, but when I opened the door, I saw white smoke all over and smelled gas," said Chen Qing-tao (38) who lives close to the devastation.

hnews@herald.ie


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