Prosecutors to detain developers of building toppled by Taiwan earthquake
Shoddy construction is thought to be a contributing factor, with the 17-story building being the only major building to collapse in the quake
TAINAN, Taiwan—Prosecutors have requested the detention of the developers of a high-rise apartment building in southern Taiwan that collapsed over the weekend following a strong earthquake, killing dozens of people, official media said Feb. 9.
The Tainan District Prosecutors Office said Lin Ming-hui and two other former executives, Chang Kui-an and Cheng Chin-kui, were suspected of professional negligence resulting in death, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported.
The office requested their detention to prevent collusion or other acts that could disrupt the investigation, CNA said. The three were summoned by prosecutors on Feb. 8 and a hearing on the matter was being held late Feb. 9.
FTV and other Taiwanese broadcasters said Lin had changed his name after a previous bankruptcy and had run multitude of companies.
The death toll in the quake stood at 41 (at press time), with all but two of the deaths coming in the building collapse. More than 100 people are believed to still be trapped in the debris.
Shoddy construction is suspected as having contributed to the disaster, with the 17-story Weiguan Golden Dragon, built in 1989, the only major building to collapse in the quake.
Although the shallow quake was potentially devastating, few buildings were damaged as a result of strict construction standards in force in Taiwan, an island that is frequently struck by quakes.
Most of the 320 people who were rescued from the disaster were saved in the hours immediately after the quake, in which the building collapsed onto itself before toppling over onto its side.
Earthquakes rattle Taiwan frequently. Most are minor and cause little or no damage, though a magnitude-7.6 quake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.
Associated Press videojournalist Tassanee Vejpongsa in Taipei, Taiwan, and writers Louise Watt and Christopher Bodeen and news assistant Henry Hou in Beijing contributed to this report.