TAIPEI - At least 24 people were injured in an explosion last night in a commuter train carriage in Taipei’s Songshan Railway Station, in what is believed to be the worst train blast in Taipei.
The train was travelling from Taipei to Keelung in northern Taiwan, some three hours away.
Witnesses said they heard three blasts inside the carriage before it burst into flames. They said they saw a man who walked in and left a bag in the cabin moments before the explosion.
A 20cm-long, black object was found on the train seat, according to police. Mr Chen said the object “looked like a firecracker”, reported Central News Agency. Commuters said the explosives were believed to have contained gun powder.
“There was a blast and the carriage went dark. People were panicking and screaming,” a passenger told a local news channel.
Another woman said: “I saw fire from the lights and I heard a sound and my hair was on fire."
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Bureau and National Security Bureau are inspecting the explosives and combing the cabin for clues.
Taipei’s Fire Department said it received a message about the explosion at around 10pm and sent more than 10 ambulances and 10 fire engines to the scene. The fire has been extinguished.
The city’s police officers are on the hunt for the suspect who is still on the run. Eyewitnesses said he is believed to be in his 40s.
It is not clear what caused the blast but National Police Agency Director-General Chen Kuo-en told reporters that for now, it does not look like a terrorist attack.
Taiwan premier Lin Chuan told reporters: "It looks like somebody did this with a malicious intent and we will fully investigate this case."
He has ordered relevant government agencies to form a team to investigate the explosion and to help the victims get the best medical attention, Cabinet spokesman Tung Chen-yuan said.
Among the victims, four are seriously hurt, including a 14-year-old boy who sustained second to third-degree burns on his face.
After visiting some of the victims at the hospital, Mr Lin told reporters that the police has raised the alert level and beefed up surveillance, assuring Taiwanese "to be at ease".