KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan - Pan Hui-chen thought it was the end of the world when a series of massive explosions devastated her neighbourhood of Kaohsiung city overnight Friday.
"The scene was really, really terrifying," the 55-year-old told AFP from a high school campus where hundreds of people sought shelter after their homes were affected by the blasts which killed at least 25 people and injured 267 others.
Pan said she saw a man with blood stains all over his body walk slowly past her with the help of two rescuers.
Another man had blood streaming down his face, "pain was shown on his face", she said.
Pan said she also saw a girl riding a motorcycle plunge into a man-hole after its cover was blown off by an explosion.
"I would have liked to help but was afraid I could also be injured by more blasts," she said, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"I've never seen this before in my life. At that moment, I asked myself 'Was this the end of the world?'" Pan said, adding that the images left in her mind made it impossible to rest even though she was so tired.
"I thought my apartment on the second floor was sinking following a series of blasts," she said.
Shopkeeper Lin Hsin-yu said the explosions accompanied by a strong odour of gas sent people running onto the streets.
"I heard many people screaming on the streets," she said outside her shop on a street which was left with a gaping rip hundreds of metres long from the explosions.
She and her husband were also forced to evacuate from their home whose iron door was severely twisted and could not open.
Their neighbour Chen Chi-ming said several people were killed just dozens of metres from his home near a busy night market, and that several motorcyclists fell into the trench left by the explosions in one of the worst-hit areas.
"Many people simply didn't have time to get away from the blasts," he said.