Taiwan gas blast kills 15, injures 243: local media

Wreckage of a damaged car is pictured after an explosion in Kaohsiung
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Wreckage of a damaged car is pictured after an explosion in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, August 1, 2014. An explosion caused by a gas leak in the southern Taiwanese city Kaohsiung has killed 15 people and injured another 243, Taiwanese media reported on Friday. REUTERS/Stringer (TAIWAN - Tags: DISASTER)

TAIPEI (Reuters) - An explosion caused by a gas leak in the southern Taiwanese city Kaohsiung has killed 15 people and injured another 243, Taiwanese media reported on Friday.

Smoke with a “gas-like smell” was seen coming out of drains in the streets before the explosion, Formosa TV and the China Times newspaper said.

The blast ignited huge fires and overturned and destroyed cars. Reuters photographs showed a scene of devastation, including the body of a dead or injured child on the ground among the rubble.

Rescuers formed a chain to pull the injured from a deep crater in the road.

The media said some residents described it as having felt like the area was hit by a powerful earthquake.

The Kaohsiung government has set up an emergency centre, with a plan to send soldiers in to coordinate the rescue operation, the media said.

The death toll was likely to rise further, they added.

(Reporting by Faith Hung; Editing by Alison Williams)