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Taiwan to check underground gas lines

DEVASTATION ALL ROUND: A damaged car is removed after the explosions. The blasts in Kaohsiung killed at least 28 people and injured 300. PHOTO: REUTERS


    Aug 04, 2014

    Taiwan to check underground gas lines


    TAIWAN will review its network of underground gas lines after preliminary investigations found a series of explosions that killed at least 28 people might have been caused by leaks in a chemical company's piping system.

    "The central government will help local branches build a thorough data bank to serve as a base for safety checks in the future," Woody Duh, deputy minister of economic affairs, said yesterday.

    President Ma Ying-jeou, who on Saturday visited hospitalised victims and the families of the deceased, ordered continued rescue efforts, investigations and a review of underground pipelines.

    At least 300 were injured in blasts in the southern city of Kaohsiung around midnight on Thursday.

    Taipei-based LCY Chemical Corp failed to stop sending propylene, a gas used in the production of plastic and fabrics, through pipelines beneath the city of Kaohsiung, even after residents complained of noxious fumes emerging from the streets and scientific readings showed potential leakage, Kaohsiung's government alleged.

    Rescuers continue to comb through debris for survivors. Two firefighters were unaccounted for, and efforts to find them were continuing, National Fire Agency deputy director Chen Wen-long said yesterday by phone.

    Calling this the deadliest industrial accident in Taiwan's history, Mr Duh said the municipal government ordered four petrochemical pipelines running through the area to be shut while investigations are on.

    The blasts affected 32,968 households and 83,819 people, cutting gas supplies to about 23,600 households, according to Taiwan's Cabinet. More than 2,000 military servicemen were dispatched to assist with the rescue.

    Meanwhile, the death toll from an explosion at a Taiwan-invested car-parts factory in China reached 69 yesterday, state media said, as a labour rights group cast doubt on its safety measures.