Taiwan city evacuates residents from fatal gas blast site

Taiwan city evacuates residents from fatal gas blast site

TAIPEI - Authorities in Taiwan's second largest city on Friday sealed off two streets and evacuated residents over a fresh gas leak at the same site of last week's fatal gas explosions.

The massive blasts in the southern city of Kaohsiung last Thursday left 30 dead and more than 300 injured - the most deadly of their kind in Taiwan's history.

"We are determining the quantity of gas (leaking). So far the highest percentage is methane and there are other types of gas," said Chen Chin-der, chief of Kaohsiung city's environmental protection bureau.

"We have ordered temporary evacuation and restricted the streets since there is danger as the leak continues." It was not immediately clear how many residents had been evacuated.

Television footage showed that two streets had been cordoned off while workers used loudspeakers to ask residents in the area to evacuate to two schools.

Thursday's blasts sparked massive fires that tore through main roads in Kaohsiung, in the south of Taiwan, leaving trenches running down the middle of some streets and throwing vehicles onto the roofs of buildings several stories high.

The city government blames LCY Chemical Corp. for the explosions, saying around 10 tonnes of propene may have leaked from pipelines operated by the company in the hours before the first explosion.

President Ma Ying-jeou has vowed a full investigation into the cause of the accident and a review of the city's gas supply network.

Kaohsiung lies adjacent to a huge petrochemical complex housing dozens of plants, and many pipelines run under the densely-packed city.

The explosions were the second disaster to strike the island in just over a week, after a TransAsia Airways plane crashed with the loss of 48 lives on July 23.

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