Taiwan developer taken into custody after quake

  • 10/02/2016
Rescue personnel work at the site where a 17-storey apartment building collapsed (Reuters)
Rescue personnel work at the site where a 17-storey apartment building collapsed (Reuters)

A Taiwan court has ruled that the developer of a building that collapsed during an earthquake at the weekend, killing at least 39 people, be held in custody.

Lin Ming-hui, the Wei-guan Golden Dragon Building's developer, and two other men from his management team are being held without bail on suspicion of negligent homicide while the authorities finish their investigation, the Tainan District Court said in a statement on Tuesday.

The investigation is being led by the Tainan District Prosecutors Office.

The quake struck at about 4am local time on Saturday at the beginning of the Lunar New Year holiday, and almost all of the dead were found in Tainan's Wei-guan building. Two people died elsewhere in the city.

Rescue work has focused on the wreckage of the 17-storey building, where more than 100 people are listed as missing and are suspected to be buried deep under the rubble.

No survivors have been brought out since Monday evening.

Questions have been raised about the building's construction quality, especially materials used to build it.

Lawyers for the three detained men were not immediately available to comment.

Reuters witnesses at the scene of the collapse have seen large rectangular, commercial cans of cooking-oil packed inside wall cavities exposed by the damage, apparently having been used as building material.

Taiwan media has also reported the presence of polystyrene in supporting beams, mixed in with concrete.

The Wei-guan, completed in 1994, was the only major high-rise building in the city of two million people to have completely collapsed.

Its lower storeys, filled with arcades of shops, pancaked on top of each other before the entire U-shaped complex toppled in on itself.

Deputy Tainan Mayor Tseng Shu-cheng told family members that 103 people were still missing in the rubble.