In Southern Taiwan’s Kaohsiung City in the late night of 31 July and early morning of 1 August a series of explosions broke out over a wide area. A pipeline carrying gaseous petrochemical feedstock was leaking and eventually ignited causing the devastating large-scale blasts.

Fiery explosions were witnessed over a range of two to three kilometers. Recent reports count 24 people killed and a further 250 injured. Sitting far from the scene of the disaster, it can be hard to imagine how violent and frightening it was for those involved. However, a dashboard camera’s footage taken in the midst of the explosions brings the incident to all of us in surreal detail.

The timestamp on the video lets us know that this incident takes place shortly after midnight. Since it’s a dashboard cam, we can’t see the passengers, but by their voices it seems to be a group of young men, possibly friends out driving late at night. The car pulls up to a stop light on a somewhat quite street.

Then out of nowhere, a loud boom is heard and the ground shakes as if a bomb had gone off, miraculously just after all the vehicles pass over. A cloud of dust and smoke rise up from the intersection.

Meanwhile, the other motorcyclists on the street appear to scramble and flee to the left. We can’t see it clearly, but to the right of the vehicle there appears to be a massive fireball glimpsed in the reflection of the windows on the building across the street and the moment that night turns to day.

The driver of our vehicle makes a U-turn and logically heads back the way it came away from the danger. However, a few moments later while the passengers are still trying to figure out what just happened, a pillar of fire erupts directly in front of them.

Turning around again the car desperately looks for a road to escape the explosions that seem to be following them at this point. They trail a taxi and are apparently joined by other vehicles keeping close perhaps for some sense of safety.

Then all the power goes out. All this does, however, is highlight the other distant explosions going off, adding to the confusion of the situation. Some vehicles pull over while others continue driving as blasts continue to shake the camera. Ours turns off to a quiet side street where the lights still work and we assume safe from further harm.

Simply watching on video, the event is unreal enough that it makes us feel like we’re watching a Hollywood movie. In addition, we have the hindsight of knowing exactly what was happening at that time.

But for the people in that car, the terror is magnified by the fact that they have no idea what is going on as the very ground beneath them is spewing fire. Our thoughts go out to all those who had to endure this nightmare scenario and hopefully the proper steps are taken so that this doesn’t happen again.

Source:  YouTube, Asahi Shimbun (Japanese)
Original article by Mr. Sato
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