At least 24 people were killed and 271 injured when several underground gas explosions ripped through Taiwan's second-largest city last night, hurling concrete and cars through the air and blasting trenches in the streets. The series of at least five explosions struck a densely populated district where several petrochemical companies operate pipelines alongside the sewer system in Kaohsiung.
Firefighters called to the neighborhood to investigate a gas leak were among the victims when the blasts went off several hours later, upending at least five red firetrucks amid the rubble of pavement and dirt. Four firefighters are among the dead, the National Fire Agency says, and the death toll could rise because many of the seriously injured are still being treated. The fires are believed to have been caused by a leak of propene, a petrochemical material not intended for public use, but the cause and source of the leak were not immediately clear, officials said. (Read more Taiwan stories.)