A gas leak in the southern city of Kaoshiung in Taiwan triggered explosions that have killed at least least 22 people and injured as many as 270 people.

The explosions occurred around midnight Friday local time, and is purported to be caused by ruptured pipelines. An eyewitness, Chen Guan-yuan, told the BBC that the blasts "caused a long range hole, like a huge cave."

Another eyewitness, Johnson Liu, told AFP, "I saw fire soaring up to possibly 20 storeys high after a blast and fire engines and cars being blown away while around 10 bodies lay on the street."

Chen Chu, the mayor of Kaohshiung, took to Facebook to urge residents to "follow the instructions of rescue teams at the scene, and avoid standing around and watching."

The specific cause of the explosion has not been identified, but the BBC reports that several gas companies have pipelines running along the sewage system.

[Image via AP]