Gas explosion leaves 3 dead, 12 homes damaged

A married couple and their eight-month-old baby died after a massive residential gas explosion destroyed one house and damaged 12 in Su’ao Township, Yilan County, yesterday, March 9.

At around 5:00pm, a massive blast tore through the neighborhood on Shengxian Road, shattering neighbor’s windows and causing buildings as far as 400 meters away to shake.

“I thought it was an earthquake,” a nearby resident told an Apple Daily reporter.

The resident saw smoke pouring out of the house and wanted to save the occupants “but even the yard was a sea of fire,” he said.

Firefighters responding to the report found the two storey house ablaze and finally extinguished the fire at around 6:20pm.

Inside the building, firefighters found the bodies of a man named Hsu, 36, his 32-year-old wife, and their eight-month-old child. The couple had been married for just one year.

A preliminary investigation completed today found a pot of water on the stove with a pack of instant noodles next to it. Investigators suspect that the pot was left unattended and boiled over, extinguishing the flames. The gas leaked and somebody came down from the second floor and switched on the kitchen light, igniting the gas.

The resulting explosion split the steel-reinforced concrete walls and support columns of the house, and left neighboring houses on both sides uninhabitable.

The Su’ao Township mayor attended the scene and helped organize emergency accommodation for affected residents.

Up to 12 homes were damaged according to a Liberty Times report. A neighbor named Chen told Liberty Times that he thought it was an air raid. A man named Lin, who lives 400 meters away said he thought it was an artillery exercise. His house “swayed like there was an earthquake,” Lin said.

Relatives, including Hsu’s grandmother, who lives nearby, and other residents of the tight-knit neighborhood clutched each other and cried as firefighters brought out the bodies of the deceased.

Yilan County Magistrate (mayor), Lin Zi-miao sent his condolences to the victims and requested the county social affairs department and Su’ao Township office to help with resettlement and compensation for nine residents of nearby affected homes.

A fire rages after a residential gas explosion in Su'ao Township, Ilan County, March 9, 2019
A fire rages after a residential gas explosion in Su’ao Township, Ilan County, March 9, 2019. Picture: Yilan County Fire Bureau.
firefighters  at scene of gas explosion and fire in Yilan County, Taiwan, March 9, 2019
Firefighters at scene of gas explosion and fire in Yilan County, Taiwan, March 9, 2019. Picture: Yilan County Fire Bureau.
Residents whose homes were made uninhabitable after a gas explosion were placed in emergency accommodation. Picture: Yilan County Fire Bureau.

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Sources: Apple Daily, Liberty Times Network, United Daily News.

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