KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan - A series of explosions caused by a suspected gas leak killed 25 people and injured 267 in Taiwan's second city on Friday, sending flames shooting 15 stories into the air, setting ablaze entire blocks and reducing shops to rubble. Media reports suggested the death toll was likely to rise sharply.
Residents in the port city of Kaohsiung said the blast shook buildings as if there had been an earthquake. Flames shot up from sewers and gutters and water from burst mains gushed through the streets. Rescuers formed a chain to pull dozens of injured from a vast crater in the street and picked their way through piles of rubble. The National Fire Agency said firefighters were investigating reports of gas leaks. Economic minister Chang Chia-juch told reporters initial assessments suggested the blast was caused by a leak of propylene, a material used in the production of plastics and fabrics.