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May 29, 2017

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Prosecutors raid LCY, CGTD offices

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As part of the investigation into the recent gas explosions in Kaohsiung, prosecutors yesterday raided the offices of LCY Chemical Corp. (李長榮化學工業) and China General Terminal & Distribution Corp. (CGTD, 華運倉儲), after they discovered a hole in one of the underground pipes belonging to LCY.

 Investigators are slated to saw off a 2- to 3-meter section of the pipe today for closer examination, in order to determine whether or not it had caused the fatal blasts.

 In addition to prosecutors, Kaohsiung's Hydraulic Engineering Bureau yesterday also descended into the city's culverts to find out whether or not other pipes were also broken.

 Prosecutors believe that the explosions may have begun at the intersection between Ersheng Rd. (二聖路) and Kaixuan Rd. (凱旋路). They brought three experts with them into the culvert beneath the intersection and discovered a 4-inch pipe with a hole measuring 7-centimeters long and 4-centimeters wide.

 Investigators said that they have obtained the data on the pipeline's pressure from LCY and CGTD to calculate whether or not a hypothetical explosion caused by the 28-square-centimeter hole would match the magnitude of the explosions that occurred between July 31 and Aug. 1.

 Investigators also said that they will try to determine what created the hole.

 Although LCY is widely suspected to be to blame for the accident, prosecutors said that they have not excluded other companies as possible suspects.

 Although accusations have been made, there has to be solid evidence from a legal standpoint; therefore, before the results of the examination are out, the prosecution will not have any presumptions, investigators said.

 How the hole formed, whether from internal or external pressure, needs to be determined by experts, so that it can be clarified whether the hole was created by the blasts, or if it was created through corrosion or other means, said Kaohsiung Prosecutors' Office prosecutor Hsieh Chao-ching (謝肇晶).

 The explosions were worst at the intersection, and it is suspected that the leak originated in the culvert beneath it, prosecutors said.

 Once the propene began to leak, it may have spread rapidly through the water in the culvert, leading to a widespread series of blasts, investigators added.

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