Police have made multiple arrests in Tainan over the shocking collapse of a high-rise apartment building, where last week a magnitude-6.4 earthquake rocked the southern Taiwan city at dawn, killing 39 people and leaving hundreds injured or missing. With the death toll predicted to rise in the coming days, police carried out the quake collapse arrests yesterday on the developer of the apartment building, Lin Ming-hui, and two of his associates under suspicion of negligent homicide.
Built in 1994, the Wei-guan Golden Dragon apartment building was the only high-rise to collapse as a result of the quake, and 36 of the known dead were at their homes in the building when it toppled to rubble, with that number expected to rise as bodies are extracted from the wreckage. This alone was cause for the opening of an investigation into its collapse, which, as a spectacularly and tragically swift consequence of the quake, raised the suspicions of authorities, as the Inquisitr reported last week.
But as emergency personnel flocked to the site, they discovered unusual materials, utterly out of place in the rubble of a collapsed high-rise building, be it of the highest quality or regulation standard. When authorities were alerted, quake investigators began sifting through the rubble and following up leads with the developer. It was the results of that investigation, which hinted at dubious construction practices and the use of unsound materials, that warranted the quake collapse arrests.
Police began to consider making arrests when an influx of information on the collapsed residential block pointed overwhelmingly to fatal flaws in its construction. Witnesses from Reuters, who were at the quake’s only scene of large-scale destruction shortly after the collapse, reported sighting tin cans in the wreckage.
“[Witnesses] saw large rectangular, commercial cans of cooking oil packed inside wall cavities exposed by the damage, apparently having been used as building material,” reports Reuters.
Local media representatives told ABC News that there were also reports of polystyrene being present in supporting beams, having been mixed with concrete.
Tainan city’s deputy secretary general, Liu Shih-Chung, announced on Monday that in the wake of the tragic quake collapse that has killed almost 40 people, warrants for the arrests of the Wei-guan Golden Dragon Building’s developer, Lin Ming-hui, and two others had been issued.
The arrests were carried out on Wednesday as further incriminating details of the Wei-guan quake collapse rubble emerged from reporters around the world.
The collapse saw 17 stories of residential apartments crumble shortly after the quake struck at 4 a.m. local time on Saturday, February 6 (8 p.m. GMT), burying men, women, and children instantly. Days later, as rescue efforts entered what Tainan Mayor William Lai called the “third stage,” he told Reuters that the outlook for anxious relatives of persons missing since the quake was not good.
“There are more fatalities than those pulled out (alive), and the number of fatalities will probably exceed 100,” said Lai to reporters.
In this stage of quake rescue and recovery, as the arrests for Negligent Homicide occupy headlines worldwide, Mayor Lai has also contracted heavy machinery to better find signs of life – if they exist – from any who may have survived.
Those who are missing — numbering in excess of 100 — are thought to be deep beneath the industrial wreckage at the site of the collapse, entombed deep underground in the building’s foundations. Although the quake collapse arrests have been made, the families and friends of those still missing anxiously await answers from authorities.
[Photo by Ashley Pon/Getty Images]