Economic Minister Chang Chia-juch said Friday authorities haven’t been able to locate the cause of the blast, but officials are speculating that a leak occurred in the underground pipeline. The pipeline transports propene, a highly flammable petrochemical.
Residents reported smelling gas and seeing smoke coming from the drains late Thursday night. The explosions started about midnight.
The fire department cut the pipeline’s gas supply line and the situation has since been contained, according to reports.
Of the more than 250 injured, more than 100 have been discharged from the hospital. Two people, however, are still missing.
The Ministry of National Defense has sent more than 1,600 military personnel to help with the rescue efforts.
Flags on the island have been set to fly at half-mast for the next three days. Already, local companies have pledged funds to help with rescue. Formosa Plastics Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate, said it would donate $665,912 while Foxconn Technology Group, a key Apple Inc. supplier, and Smartphone maker HTC Corp and its charity foundation each pledged about $330,000. Also, computer manufacturer Acer Inc., has agreed to donate about $66,000.
It’s been a tragic few weeks for Taiwan. Last Wednesday, a TransAsia flight crashed on a Taiwanese island and killed some 48 people on board.
Publication date: August 1, 2014