Gas blasts tear through Taiwan city, kill 25

KAOHSIUNG: A series of powerful gas blasts killed at least 25 people and injured up to 267 Friday in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, overturning cars and ripping up roads as terrified residents fled an inferno.

The explosions sparked massive fires which tore through the city´s Cianjhen district, leaving a yawning trench running for hundreds of metres down the middle of a major thoroughfare and littering the streets with dead bodies.

Dramatic video footage captured by dashboard cameras inside cars showed multiple blasts and pillars of flame erupting from manholes as drivers frantically tried to avoid being engulfed.

The National Fire Agency said the blasts killed at least 25 people and injured around 267 in Taiwan´s second largest city.

Four firefighters who rushed to the scene after residents smelled gas were among those killed in the blasts while rescuers were searching for two others who went missing.

Premier Jiang Yi-huan inspected the affected areas and said flags would be flown at half-mast at government offices and schools across the island from August 5 for three days to mourn the victims of the blasts as well as a fatal air crash last week.

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his condolences to the victims of the gas explosions, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The blasts, believed to have been triggered by gas leaking from underground pipelines, were powerful enough to flip cars and split open paved roads.