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May 26, 2017

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Kaohsiung calls for avoidance of blast sites

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Kaohsiung police yesterday reported many cases of curious "adventurers" trying to explore the scene of the gas explosions that took 28 lives since last Thursday.

The series of explosions that blew up several blocks in the heart of Kaohsiung City was barricaded by police and firefighters in their attempt to rescue people trapped under the debris. The blasts were of such magnitude that entire sections of streets were ripped apart; vehicles were turned upside down and some were even flung onto the tops of buildings. The areas affected by the blasts were measured to be 2 to 3 square kilometers in Cianjhen District (前鎮區).

As the rescue work is being carried out in the daytime, many passersby have been gathering to watch; people have also been seen wandering around the site of the explosions late at night, shouting at the police when the latter tried to ask them to leave, several policemen reported while standing guard at the site.

According to local media outlets, curious locals flocked to the ruined streets at night, whispering that the explosion site looked "just like a movie set," while the rescue work was going on through the night.

The police even reported that a young couple headed to the site on the night of Chinese Valentine's Day, and walked onto the broken streets for an "adventure date."

The police called for the public to stay away from the streets where the explosions occurred, as many pieces of rubble may still fall from the ruined houses and that the ground is fragile in the wake of the explosions. "Their 'adventures' are also extremely disrespectful to the dead," said an unnamed police officer.

Some even ventured into the empty, broken houses before being stopped by the police.

Several locals were also seen gambling in a nearby park restroom, possibly due to the fact that police were otherwise occupied.

The Helping Hands

Volunteer helpers turned a nearby elementary school into a makeshift supply station, with lunch boxes and water ready for the police, firemen and rescue teams.

"We don't know when (the police) will be hungry, so we prepared the food beforehand," said a volunteer surnamed Chang, who added that people who headed to the site of the explosion to explore were also chipping away at the provisions as they went to the school to rest and "get a drink of water."

Provisions have also been sent to Kaohsiung from many counties and cities, and are being distributed to the locals affected by the explosions. Despite the many donations and supplies, many people stated yesterday that they stood in line for over two hours for provisions.

Some people were also caught on camera when they stood in line for provisions, passing themselves as victims of the explosion, while they were actually acting as a team. "Some of them stood in line for food, others waited at the door to take the provisions and the first group would go back for more," said an unnamed Kaohsiung resident who witnessed the incident and posted the pictures online.

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