The initial explosion occurred around midnight on Thursday of last week. Witnesses describe the event, saying that flames were ten stories high and that it was the most frightening experience of their life.
Sadly, in footage coming from dashboard cameras and cell phones (check out the video below), we can see houses being destroyed, business being flattened and cars both flying up into the air and collapsing into the craterous earth.
In an interview with the BBC, eyewitness Chen Guan-yuan said, “I saw lots of cars and motorcycles with engines all over on the road, and doctors checking if bodies were alive or dead… [The blasts have] caused a long-range hole like a huge cave.”
Today, thousands of homes still remain without water and electricity, while the people are reminded everywhere of the event by the carnage that is still littered across the city.
According to an official review, the explosions were triggered by an underground gas pipe owned and maintained by Taiwan’s LCY Chemical Corporation. It is unclear if it was triggered by a leak or a break in the pipe
“Our inspection indicates that LCY’s pipeline showed irregularities around 8 p.m. (local time). The amount of flow in the pipe dropped from 22 tons per hour to 19 tons, and was even down to 1 ton at one point,” said Chen Chen-te, the head of the Kaohsiung Environmental Protection Bureau.
“The leak was very far from the explosions, because propane was leaking and spreading through the sewer system everywhere. When the density of propane is very high, anything can trigger an explosion, anything as small as a cigarette, or starting the engine of a motor scooter.”
This incident isn’t the first time that LCY has been involved in a high profile environmental situation. In 1986, the company was forced to shut down after residents complained about a polluted water supply caused by the factory’s emissions of hazardous chemicals.
Now, things are worse than ever for the company, who is directly responsible for the deaths of dozens of people. Today, the company insists that they have every intention of being forthright with investigators.
None of that, however, will bring relief to the families of the victims.