In the wake of a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Taiwan early Saturday morning, killing at least 37 and injuring hundreds more, controversy has risen from the discovery of cooking oil and paint cans built into the pillars of a 17-story building in Tainan that toppled in the quake, resulting in the majority of the casualties. However, at this point, experts claim that they were not responsible for the building’s collapse.
The Wei Guan Golden Dragon building, located in Tainan’s Yong Kang district and comprising 200 housing units, was one of 10 buildings that collapsed in the earthquake occurring just a little before 4am on Saturday. It’s believed that 113 out of the building’s 256 registered residents remain trapped in the ruins, and the rescue search continues.
After photos of the incriminating oil and paint cans were taken and circulated online, Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen announced the launch of an investigation into the Wei Guan building’s developers.
Yet a technician by the name of Tai Yun Fa has argued that the presence of the oil cans in the building’s pillars really posed no structural liability. According to Tai, back during the time of the Wei Guan’s construction in the early ’90s, oil cans were commonly used to enlarge pillars without significantly adding to a building’s weight. However, it’s “preposterous” to assume that the cans were intended as support or to substitute the already existent reinforced concrete.
Apparently, this usage of oil cans in building construction wasn’t outlawed until September 1999, when the deadly 921 earthquake ignited the same controversy. From that point onwards, styrofoam and formwork boards were utilized instead for enlarging building pillars.
According to Hsu Wun-long, head of the Interior Ministry’s Construction & Planning Agency, the Wei Guan building was completed in 1994 and constructed by a company that’s now defunct. Prior to the earthquake the building was not listed as a dangerous structure.
Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te promises an investigation into all 10 collapsed buildings.
As of Monday morning, the earthquake’s death toll numbers 37, with 526 injured and rescuers continuing to retrieve survivors from the rubble. Experts believe that a phenomenon known as “site effect” was responsible for the wide-spreading impact of the quake.
Watch aerial footage from the morning of the disaster below:
AERIAL FOOTAGE of a collapsed 17-story residential building in Tainan, brought down by this morning's 6.4 magnitude earthquake in southern Taiwan.So far, at least 2 people have been killed by the quake, a 10-day-old girl and a 40-year-old man. 221 have been rescued and 115 hospitalized, Tainan city officials said.ALSO WATCH: http://on.fb.me/1XavQq1
Posted by Shanghaiist on Friday, February 5, 2016
[Images via NetEase]