Five residents of a New Taipei City residential complex were injured yesterday, when a gangster’s store of explosive materials ignited, resulting in a blast that damaged 12 apartments in two buildings.
The explosion occurred in an apartment on the 4th floor of a 6-storey building in Datong Street, Sanxia District, at around 3:30 pm yesterday, Sunday, October 23. The resident of the apartment, a 27-year-old man named Liu, suffered 2nd degree burns to 36% of his body and is currently intubated in a hospital intensive care unit.
Four residents in two apartments of another building were also injured by flying glass and debris. The injured included a 67-year-old woman and her 15-year-old granddaughter who resided on the 3rd floor, and a 55-year-old man and his 22-year-old daughter who lived on the 5th floor. All four were sent to hospital for first aid and observation.
Mayor of New Taipei City, Hou You-yi (侯友宜), rushed to the site of the explosion to inspect the disaster and ordered that emergency accommodation arranged for the residents of the two buildings.
Pictures from the scene showed the courtyard of the complex littered with broken glass, steel framing, pieces of furniture, and other debris. Reports noted that the elevator doors on the floor where the explosion occurred were severely deformed. Windows shattered on the neighboring building from the 1st to 6th floors.
News outlets yesterday reported the incident as a gas explosion. However, an investigation by the New Taipei City Fire Department found that the source of the explosion was a small storeroom in Mr Liu’s apartment which had contained a large amount of firecrackers, gunpowder, yellow smoke powder, signal flares, smoke bombs, and other material. Investigators suspect that the blast was ignited by static electricity or friction when Liu opened the door of the room.
Investigators also found three air guns, two replica pistols, a modified pistol, and other equipment believed to be connected with Mr Liu’s debt collection business.
According to a Liberty Times report, Liu is a member of the Bamboo Union, one of Taiwan’s major triads, and has criminal records for fraud, drugs, obstruction of freedom, and other crimes.
Police are waiting for Liu’s condition to stabilize before interrogating him.
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