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Construction workers rushed to hospital following sewer accident

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Two unconscious construction workers were rushed to the hospital in Taichung after they reportedly inhaled biogas while working in the sewers.

At an underground construction site on the intersection of Huanzhong Rd. (環中路) and Qinghai Rd. (青海路) in the Central Taiwan city's Xitun District (西屯區), the two construction workers fell unconscious at approximately 3 p.m. The fire department was notified and firefighters were immediately dispatched to the scene of the accident. The two construction workers were sent to the hospital within half of an hour of the report. As of press time, police were still working to determine the cause of the accident.

One of the construction workers, surnamed Chu, was sent to Cheng Ching General Hospital (澄清醫院), while the other, surnamed Lee, was sent to Taichung Veterans General Hospital (台中榮總).

A blood test showed that Chu had a carbon monoxide concentration of 13.3 percent. Lee did not have a pulse and was not breathing when he arrived at the hospital according to local reports. As of press time, his condition was unclear.

Forensic experts at the Taichung Police Bureau's Sixth Precinct (市警六分局) as well as members of the Central Occupation Safety and Health Center (勞檢所) arrived at the construction site to determine the cause of the accident.

Police said that the sewer is more than 6 meters below ground level, while officials with the aforementioned center said that the standard operating procedure is to open up the manhole cover first and check the amount of oxygen underground; construction workers are prevented from descending down the manhole if the oxygen level is less than 18 percent. If the oxygen level is above 18 percent, oxygen has to be pumped down the manhole before construction workers are allowed to descend.

When asked if regulations had been violated, the officials said that they were still investigating.

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