Massive gas pipeline explosion in Taiwan kills 15 people, injures 233

A blast rips through the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan early on Aug. 1, 2014.

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.

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 15 people were confirmed dead in a series of gas explosions in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, the mayor said Friday.

"The gas explosions on Thursday night killed 15 people and injured 233 others," Kaohsiung's mayor Chen Chu told reporters.

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.