A family of three died when a gas explosion tore through their three-story residence, and a man in a neighboring house also died in the resulting fire, in the early hours of the morning today, September 19.
The Taichung City Fire Bureau responded to emergency reports about an explosion in Longjing District at 4:17 am.
Firefighters brought two fires under control by 5:08 am, only to find the charred remains of four people.
In the house where the blast occurred, the bodies of a 42-year-old man named Chen, his 37-year-old wife, and their 8-year-old son were found.
The explosion also set fire to a residence across the road from the Chen residence. In that house, firefighters found the body of a 73-year-old man. The man had been bedridden, and unable to escape the blaze.
A man in another residence suffered a knee injury, and required hospitalization.
While an investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing, the circumstances are suspicious, according to reports.
Firefighters found three gas cylinders on the second and third floors of the Chen residence. Mr Chen’s body was found next to one of the gas cylinders and the valve had been opened.
The placement of the gas bottles were suspicious, firefighters said, because the kitchen is located on the first floor, and the cylinders were not connected to a stove or other appliance.
Police and the Taichung City Social Affairs Bureau revealed that the family had a history of domestic violence, and that Chen and his wife had agreed to divorce back in May, but were still living in the same house. Mr Chen had been unemployed for the last two years, while Mrs Chen worked as a kindergarten teacher.
The preliminary police investigation also found that Chen and his wife had quarreled before the explosion.
The explosion seriously damaged the Chen residence, and also caused walls in the two adjacent residences to collapse.
Taichung City Mayor Lu Shiow-yen visited the scene of the disaster to offer assistance to those affected, including arranging emergency accommodation.
Pictures: Taichung City Fire Bureau.
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