A family of three were lucky to escape with their lives, after a leak from a gas canister sparked an explosion at a Taiwan hotpot eatery last Thursday (Nov 9).
Seven people were hurt in the incident, which occurred at Changhua’s Xihu district, as a restaurant employee was replacing the gas canister for a portable stove.
CCTV footage of the incident at Bu Lao Guo Hotpot restaurant showed the male staff member fiddling with the gas canister at one of the tables.
However, customers seated around the area could be seen vacating their seats while holding their noses and moving away from stove, presumably because they could smell the gas leak.
Unfortunately, a family of three – including a three-year-old girl – were trapped in a booth beside the staff member.
The father-daughter pair were unable to escape and bore the brunt of the flames during the sudden explosion, along with the young employee.
The father, a 37-year-old surnamed Yang, was seen in the video picking up the young girl and leaping over the seat to safety as the fire raged right beside them, while his wife fled in another direction.
The 16-year-old staff member was also seen in the video running away after the explosion, although it was not immediately clear if he was badly hurt.
Other victims suffered from smoke inhalation. One patron told EBC News that the ensuing blaze was so big that it blocked the exit of the restaurant.
According to reports, the toddler suffered second to third degree burns to 20 per cent of her body, including her face and arms. Eye-witnesses reported seeing her burnt face peeling while the family waited outside the restaurant for the ambulance to arrive.
His wife told reporters at the hospital: “We heard the hissing sound of the gas and were preparing to escape but it was too late. I also saw that the restaurant staff didn’t know how to use the fire extinguisher.”
An eye-witness told Taiwanese news media that the young staff member probably did not know the correct procedure to replace the cylinder for the portable gas stove.
The 16-year-old employee suffered second degree burns to 24 per cent of his body, mostly to his neck and hands.
Speaking to the media, the teenager’s parents said he had taken up the job at the restaurant to help with the family’s finances, and didn’t expect that something like this could happen. The family had thought he was only serving dishes and cleaning tables as a waiter.
Said his father: “He’s a good son, he got a job to help the family. In an interview with EBC News, his mother said: “I asked if he’s in pain, but he still told me not to worry about him.”