4 die, 17 injured in New Taipei blast

At least four people were killed and 17 injured in a fire and a series of powerful explosions at a plant producing paper money in Wugu, in New Taipei City, yesterday evening. Glass windows of many apartments nearby were shattered.

The blasts and fire took place at around 8:20 p.m. at the factory manufacturing paper money for worship rituals. The factory is located on Section 3 of Chengtai Road in Wugu District.

Four victims died on the site or before being taken to hospital while six were rescued from the two-story factory.

The 17 injured people were mostly passersby and nearby residents.

They suffered mostly cuts in varying degrees on the face, limbs or other parts of body caused mainly by shattered glass.

They received emergency treatment at various hospitals in New Taipei City and adjacent Taipei City with two having to be confined at a hospital for recuperation. But none was in danger.

The fire was placed under control at around 10:00 p.m. after fire engines from 11 fire-fighting teams from various districts rushed to the scene.

Fire department officials said eyewitnesses told them that the fire could have started from the explosion of a nearby power transformer box of the state-owned Taiwan Power Co.

A chain of explosions was set off after the fire spread to the plant.

Some eyewitnesses on the scene said they heard explosions from firecrackers that could have been stored in the plant that has a floor area of close to 100 pings (1 ping = 36 square feet).

There were also reports that the fire and explosions were caused by gas leakage.

Police and fire department officials said they have to make a thorough investigation into the accident to determine the cause.

But they have not ruled out any possibilities, including the illegal storage of firecrackers in violation of regulations, they said.

An elementary school near the gutted plant announced the cancellation of anniversary celebrations scheduled for today because of extensive damages to glass doors and windows of classrooms and administrative offices.

-The China Post/Asia News Network