1 dead, 15 injured in gas explosion at restaurant in central Taiwan

The reports say that the initial estimates of the damage stood at NT$1.5 million (US$49,400).

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At least one person died and 15 others were injured, after an explosion rocked a restaurant during lunchtime on Tuesday in the Fengjia business district in the central Taiwan city of Taichung, the reports said.

The Central News Agency reported that a woman's body was found in the toilet on the second floor of the restaurant hours after the blaze was brought under control. According to reports, a few of the injured had some severe burns and are getting treated at hospital. Six of the injured were reported to be students from the nearby Feng Chia University.

The local media said that victims had just arrived at the curry restaurant, or were standing in line for their lunch, when a gas cylinder in the restaurant exploded.

The United Daily News reported that the 30-year-old owner of the restaurant is said to be in critical condition with second- and third-degree burns over 90 per cent of his body.

At around 12:22 pm, a series of explosions were heard from the restaurant, located in the city's Xitun District, before a fire engulfed the restaurant, a clothing store, a noodle restaurant, as well as residential units above the shops.

Taiwan News said that four residents had to be rescued by firemen using ladders and at least two of them suffered burns over 80 per cent of their body. The report added that several were in their 20s, while one of the injured was a heavily pregnant woman in her 30s. The authorities believe that the number of victims might increase.

Five ambulances, 23 fire engines and 69 fire fighters were dispatched to the scene, which is close to the popular Feng Jia night market. The reports said that the initial estimates of the damage stood at NT$1.5 million (US$49,400).