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Grandmother of boy killed in Xindian gas explosion passes away

TAIPEI -- The number of fatalities in Friday's gas explosion in New Taipei increased to two as a woman injured in the blast died early Saturday morning, according to a hospital in nearby Taipei City.

The 59-year-old woman, the only victim sent to Wan Fang Hospital after the explosion, died of her burns and cardiopulmonary failure, a hospital spokeswoman told reporters.

The victim had sustained second to third degree burns over nearly 90 percent of her total body surface area, the spokeswoman said.

The explosion occurred in the woman's third-floor apartment and caused a fire in the high-rise residential building with nearly 90 households, according to an initial investigation. About a dozen other people were injured.

The woman's 16-month-old grandson was also killed. Her other grandchild — a 2-year-old girl — remained in critical condition with severe burns.

Residents of the building said they smelled natural gas Thursday afternoon and alerted the gas company. Workers sent to the building for inspection did not take the problem seriously, explaining it away as a natural “biogas” issue, the residents complained Friday.

The gas company involved, Shin Shin Natural Gas Co., cut off the supply of natural gas after the explosion occurred and began checking the pipeline for breaches Saturday.

A prosecutor was on the scene with personnel from the fire and police departments and the gas company to investigate the cause of the blast.

The fire chief has said that they would investigate whether the explosion involved a leak from the natural gas pipe leading into the apartments — which would be the responsibility of the gas company — or whether it occurred in the section of pipe inside the building — which would be the responsibility of the residents.

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