TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Twelve people were sent to hospital Wednesday after explosions rocked a food factory in Wugu (五股), New Taipei City, reportedly caused by a leak from gas bottles in its basement.
The five men and seven women, including two Vietnamese women, injured by burns or cut by flying glass were ten factory employees and two passersby, reports said.
A preliminary investigation suggested that the explosions were the result of a leak while a gas worker was filling up several 50-kilo gas bottles in the basement. However later in the day, further research pointed in the direction of a combination of events, such as a tube from a gas bottle which was not connected to any other bottle, which allowed the gas to escape, and short-circuits in an electric bicycle and in the alarm system, reports said.
The blasts damaged five cars and 40 bicycles in the underground car park but also rocked the central kitchen on the first floor and the offices on the second floor, while sending shards of glass and chunks of metal flying outside and blocking the elevators. The third through sixth floors were occupied by employees’ quarters.
The fire service said it received news of the blasts at 11:27 a.m. Wednesday. It sent 140 people to the scene in 53 vehicles, reports said.
The injured were sent to six hospitals from Banqiao to Tamshui. A man in his fifties suffered second-degree burns over 27 percent of his body, while a woman in her thirties showed cuts on the right side of her face, emergency services said. One of the injured was a delivery man who ran inside after the blast covered in blood.
The factory, known as Yu Shan Fang (玉膳坊), was specialized in preparing meals for new mothers at postnatal care centers, reports said. It had been hit by another type of explosion before, according to the media.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Liluan Chu (朱立倫) visited the injured in hospital during the afternoon.