Friday, August 01, 2014

BREAKING: Kaohsiung horror, gas main explosion kills 25, 292 injured UPDATE X 10

Death toll now at 25, expected to rise as more missing are found.

FocusTaiwan now saying it is petrochemical piping. Ben from Letters from Taiwan and I are jointly wondering how long before Chen Chu gets blamed by KMT. Politics has no bottom when it comes to cynical exploitation.

Apple Daily report in Chinese 22 dead, 270 injured.

Apple Daily images with dashcam video

UPDATES (most recent first):
10. Apple Daily Drone video

9. A really good picture collection on FB from Danny Chu.

8. [removed]

7. ETTV Via CNN.

6. FocusTaiwan with CNA report: 22 dead (incl 4 firefighters) 292 injured. Many missing, including senior fire official who went in at 9 pm to check out leak reports. Now saying it is petrochemical plant piping.

5. Stills, videos, maps on BBS

4. Wreckage, post-fire

4. Fire, people recording

4. Strangely angled video of explosions

3. Explosions recorded. Unbelieveable

2. CCTV cam capture of moment of explosion

2. FTV report

1. Aftermath video

Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Carlos said...

Wait a minute... I don't think A-ma's place is far from that part of town.

STOP Ma said...

I can't imagine the horror that would have been being there when it happened. They were showing cars and scooters on rooftops.

I fear the death-toll will be much higher.

Really hope it turns out better than it looks.

Anonymous said...

Sean Lien donated 100,000NT$ to the victims in Koahsiung. Being criticized as insult here.How close to the general perception?

Anonymous said...

Sean Lien spent NT$1,000,000 on his wife's birthday gathering this year.

If he cannot get his spending priority right, how can one expect him to get the expenditure priority of Taipei straight?

Robert R. said...

I'm a little confused about the 3 hours before the explosion. As I understand, the fire department was at site since 8 or 9pm due to some suspicion of a gas leak, hence the high police & fire casualties.

How was the leak suspected? Butane is odorless, and propene and ethylene aren't particularly strong smelling. All are odorless. If the timeline I read is correct, LCY measured the drop in supply pressure around 8pm, so if the fire department was suspecting the leak within 1 hour, that seems pretty fast (assuming that LCY didn't alert them).

Second, their action was to wet down (spray) the area with water. Is this SOP for a gas leak? It seems terribly ineffective. Perhaps helpful for a liquid hydrocarbon leak, but for a gas leak, it won't do anything to reduce the amount of vapor (like it would for liquid hydrocarbon), nor to prevent an explosive mixture from forming, nor to prevent ignition (especially since autoignition temperatures are usually well above 300C). So, what were they trying to accomplish?

Michael Turton said...

I suspect they have no training and have never conducted a drill. Let alone a really good drill. They simply had no clue. What do you do when you don't want something to burn? Wet it.

The lack of money invested in disaster drills and training and awareness really shows.


Mike Fagan said...

"How was the leak suspected? Butane is odorless, and propene and ethylene aren't particularly strong smelling. All are odorless."

I think it's likely that the gas was not 100% propylene for several reasons. One is that the processes for producing it (e.g. fractional distillation - see la wiki entry) may only yield a gas containing only 50% to 70% propylene, and so the other compounds in the mix may provide an odorant. The second reason for thinking the gas was only partially propylene is that there are likely regulations stipulating that hazardous and odorless gases must be diluted with an odorant so as to aid in the detection of gas leaks.

The residents were probably smelling the other compound gases in the mix besides the propylene.

One thing that I haven't yet seen is any info on the piping design and the materials the pipes were constructed from.

STOP Ma said...

Robert R.,

I'll add to Michael's comment by giving two anecdotal stories...

I remember looking out of my 5th floor condo one day in Keelung and seeing billowing black smoke coming out of the top floor of a 10 storey building. I knew a teacher at one of the 5th floor English schools in that same building and saw no attempts at evacuation of the building (the fire trucks had not arrived yet). So, I called the school and informed my friend that there was a massive fire in their building and the children should be evacuated pronto. She then told me that the principal (a former firefighter) had gone upstairs to check on the fire and decided that it was not serious enough to warrant evacuation. He told her it would be more risky causing panic if there was an evacuation!!

I couldn't believe it! There was clearly a serious fire occurring in the top floor of the building, which could have easily become dangerous if there was an explosion from a gas tank, etc. But no evacuation of the children from this building. It was even more alarming knowing that most of these buildings would be condemned to any minimal fire-code specifications that we consider reasonable in the West.

My second anecdote involved my own condo. A pipe broke in our bathroom and water was rapidly flowing out into our bathroom. We had no idea how to turn the main water line to our unit off. We called the fire department to have them come out to figure out how to shut the water off, knowing our neighbours had no clue how to do this and serious damage could occur to our unit and the units below us. The fire crew arrived and... get this... they had no clue where the main water shutoff to our unit (or the building) was located.

Needless to say, this was an eye-opening experience as to how prepared Taiwan is for any emergency situation.

les said...

My MIL lives one street behind that mess. No-one came to ask them to leave the area, warn them not to light a stove or anything like that. They heard the sirens of every fire appliance in Kaohsiung arriving from shortly after 8pm, and the explosion wasn't until close to midnight. In that time, every single person could have been safely evacuated from that area and all the streets closed to traffic.

Robert R. said...

Yeah, those anecdotes don't surprise me, but still disturb me.

With regard to the water spraying, it doesn't look like this is a lack of training, rather, it's their SOP!
This Taipei Times article is about a suspected gas leak in Taipei, and they did the exact same thing saying "diluted the concentrated liquefied petroleum gas in the air by spraying water to reduce any immediate danger from any leak".
You can dilute it was steam, but not with liquid water....

John S said...

I'm assuming that few if any residents on the exploded streets knew about the pipes carrying flammable gas or liquids.

So my first question would be: Does the city have to make that information available to the public?

I would think that people in that city would want to check on that before deciding where to buy property or an apartment.

There ought to be a public HAZMAT website with those pipes indicated clearly on maps.

Another thing I don't quite understand after seeing the (English language)reports: In all of my years living in a number of different houses and apartments in Tainan and Taipei, I don't recall seeing natural gas piped into any kitchens or used for heating.

All the kitchens I saw where gas was used for cooking had tanks holding the gas, even in relatively modern apartments built in the 1980s. When you run out of gas, you call the company and they send a guy out with a new tank on a scooter.

Mike Fagan said...

@John S

I believe the central government has ways and means of withholding that information (the location of pipelines carrying flammable gases) from public disclosure. But you are right, it should be made public, ideally as an additional function on google maps.

Regarding piped gas, it is actually quite common you just missed it. I've lived in three apartments (two in Kaohsiung, one in Tainan) that had piped gas. I now live in a house where I need to take deliveries of gas bottles. The piped gas is substantially cheaper, but I would always turn off the safety valve when I wasn't using it and this always made me a bit sub-consciously nervous.

Anonymous said...

Late find here, but worth sharing...

Check out the panoramic view of the