3 workers killed in underground sewage tank accident in Kaohsiung

3 workers believe to have died from hydrogen sulfide poisoning in underground sewage tank under Kaohsiung apartment tower

(Photo from Kaohsiung Fire Department)

(Photo from Kaohsiung Fire Department)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Three workers who were repairing a underground sewage tank under an apartment tower in Kaohsiung lost consciousness and were later declared dead yesterday (May 7), after they were suspected of inhaling poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas, reported Liberty Times.

At 4:39 p.m., the Kaohsiung Fire Department received a call that three men, surnamed Kao, Lin and Kao, were trapped in an underground sewage tank they had been working on. When paramedics arrived on the scene at 5:19 p.m., all three men were unconscious and non responsive.

Police said that a 54-year-old worker surnamed Kao was sent to the Kaohsiung Armed Forces General Hospital, a 30-year-old worker surnamed Lin was sent to Kaohsiung Municipal Min-Sheng Hospital, and their 43-year-old supervisor also surnamed Kao was sent to Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital.

The supervisor was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m., Lin was was pronounced dead at 7 p.m., and Kao was also pronounced dead that evening, though an official time was not given.

Staff at the apartment said that Lin first entered the tank and because he stopped responding to his coworkers, Kao also entered the tank. When Kao also stopped responding, the supervisor sensed that something was wrong and told the building management to call the authorities before he went inside to investigate, never to be heard from again.


(CNA image)

An initial investigation by authorities found that the level of hydrogen sulfide in the tank was 52 parts per million (ppm), far beyond the safe limit required by law of 10 ppm. Therefore, it is suspected that the men's deaths were caused by hydrogen sulfide poisoning.

Work on the site has been suspended and a fine of up to NT$300,000 (US$10,000) could be issued to the employer for violating occupational safety and health laws.


Meter showing dangerous level of hydrogen sulfide. (CNA image)