“I didn’t know whether I would be struck dead by a flying drainage lid, or hit by gasoline drums lying at the roadside. I was really very scared.”
These are the words of a person who managed a lucky escape from the massive gas explosion in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung city Thursday night.
The survivor said the first blast took place at a road near his home. His home was filled with gas-like smell at about 8 pm before the actual explosion began at about midnight, he wrote in an online post on PTT, Taiwan’s largest bulletin board.
“I and my family quickly evacuated from our home. As we were walking on the road, there was a very strong gas smell…. The smell was stronger in places near drainage lids,” he wrote.
Over the next three hours, firemen shot jets of water into pipes leaking white smoke, trying to dilute it without knowing that the gas was filled up in miles of space underground, the eyewitness said.
He said he had tried to call citizens’ services hotline to inform authorities of the developments, but the officers did not pay much attention to him. They said the situation was under control and advised the caller to go back home and sleep.
“I was so angry that I told the telephone operator, if we go back home to sleep and we never wake up again, who is going to take the responsibility?” he wrote.
Five minutes after the phone conversation, a big explosion took place in front of him and the whole place was shaking badly, which sent the writer and his family on a run.
“Smoke and fire filled the two sides of the road and I saw a drainage lid in front of a 7-11 explode into the sky. There were severely injured people everywhere. But we were so scared that we couldn’t help anyone.”
Suddenly, a car drove beside them and his family of four and two other neighbors were lucky enough to get a ride and flee the scene.
The driver had to be careful so as to avoid bumping into the injured lying on the roads, as well as the all the drainage lids scattered around, he wrote, adding that all of them “were trembling and praying” that the drainage lids would not explode when they drove past.
The survivor posted his account on the PTT bulletin board early Friday, noting that he was very sad to learn from TV footage that the whole district was like hell and that so many people had died.
“Can anyone tell me why nobody could solve the problem in the three hours before the gas leak? Why were all the units passing the ball to each other?” he wrote.
The person also had some advice for the media.
“I hope the media… will not evade serious topics on this matter and focus instead on trivial issues,” he wrote. “The real situation is much more horrible than what the media had shown us.”
Taiwan authorities said the series of gas explosions last night has killed 22 people and injured about 270.
The exact cause of the gas leak is not clear, but reports point to ruptured pipelines.
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