Asia

Taiwan earthquake: Developer questioned over building collapse

  • 9 February 2016
  • From the section Asia
Media captionDrone footage showed the building felled by the earthquake

Police in Taiwan are questioning the developer of a building which collapsed in Saturday's earthquake.

At least 39 people inside the Weiguan Jinlong (Golden Dragon) apartment complex in Tainan were killed when it collapsed. Two others died elsewhere.

About 320 people have been rescued but more than 100 people may still be trapped under the debris.

It was one of the few buildings to suffer serious damage, prompting an investigation into how it was built.

Questions have been raised about tin cans which were spotted being used as filler in some of the concrete pillar, although some construction experts have said that may not have caused any structural problems.

With hopes fading of finding more survivors, rescuers are now using heavy equipment to knock down parts of the toppled structure.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Almost all those who died in the quake were in the Weiguan Jinlong complex

Officials said the developer, named as Lin Ming-hui, and two of his colleagues, named as Chang and Cheng, were taken to the district court for questioning early on Tuesday.

Prosecutors are seeking to detain them on charges of negligence leading to death.

All but two of the people who died in the 6.4 magnitude quake had been inside the Weiguan Jinlong building, which was just over 20 years old.

Falling debris killed two others elsewhere in the city.

Media captionA survivor is rescued from a collapsed apartment block, two days after the earthquake

Rescue efforts have been continuing at the site, helped by high-tech equipment, sniffer dogs and cranes.

There have been several dramatic rescues, but authorities are losing hope of digging out more people alive.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Official briefings offered little comfort to relatives of the dead and missing

Mayor William Lai approved the use of heavy lifting equipment on Tuesday, but said relatives were "getting more anxious as time passes by and expect more".

His press conference was interrupted by distraught relatives, AFP reports.

"I beg you to save us. Our family still have three people trapped inside," one woman told the mayor.

Taiwan lies near the junction of two tectonic plates and often experiences tremors.

Saturday's quake was shallow, meaning its effects would have been amplified, geologists said.