Updated: 08/01/2014 04:08 | By Agence France-Presse

Taiwan gas pipeline blasts injure around 230, fatalities feared

Multiple gas pipeline explosions ripped through the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, leaving at least five people feared dead and injuring around 230, officials said Friday.

Taiwan gas pipeline blasts injure around 230, fatalities feared

This general view shows the downtown area of the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung on September 22, 2009 - by Sam Yeh

The explosions, believed to have been caused by a gas leak, triggered a massive inferno with eyewitnesses reporting several bodies littered on the streets.

"At least 228 people who were injured have been rushed to hospitals for treatment," the National Fire Agency said. 

Premier Jiang Yi-huah told reporters that at least five people, including a firefighter, were feared dead.

The authorities received calls from residents in Kaohsiung's Cianjhen district about suspected gas leaks late Thursday, which triggered a series of explosions that were powerful enough to rip open roads and overturn cars.

"The local fire department received calls of gas leaks late Thursday and then there was a series of blasts around midnight affecting a area of two to three square kilometres," the fire agency said in a statement .

Emergency workers rushed to the scene and were removing bodies from the area.

Local media reported that emergency rooms in Kaohsiung city hospitals were packed with casualties. 

Officials urged people to stay out of the affected areas and local schools were reopened for people to take shelter.

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