A gas explosion followed by an intense blaze destroyed several buildings in Taichung shortly after noon today, injuring 15 people and destroying vehicles parked in the street.
The explosion happened in a restaurant next to Feng Chia (Fengjia) University at 12:22, when the restaurant and surrounding area was bustling with people on their lunch break.
Fire chief Hsiao Huanzhang (蕭煥章) said that according to interviews with restaurant staff, someone was replacing the gas bottles and didn’t shut off a valve, leading to a gas leak, and ignition may have been caused by someone turning on a fan or the kitchen smoke extractor.
Early reports said that 11 people were lightly injured, but as the afternoon progressed the number of injured rose to 15. Around 5:00pm the body of a female was found in a bathroom on the second floor of the building.
Among the injured were 3 restaurant staff, 6 students from Fengjia University, and a woman 8 months pregnant. The pregnant woman’s injuries were said to be not serious. Four of the injured were male and 10 female.
One 40 year-old man suffered 2nd degree burns to 90% of his body, a 40 year-old woman suffered 2nd degree burns to 60% of her body, and a 49 year-old woman suffered 2nd degree burns to 16% of her body and lacerations caused by glass fragments.
A total of 23 fire appliances and 69 firefighters were dispatched to deal with the blaze. As well as the restaurant where the fire broke out, a ramen restaurant, boutiques, stores, and 6 residences were damaged.