The plot thickens on the case of the dubiously-constructed Wei Guan Golden Dragon apartment building that toppled over during Saturday’s earthquake in Taiwan, killing dozens of residents. In addition to the eyebrow-raising presence of cooking oil and paint cans in the pillars, Tainan prosecutors have discovered a 50% cutback in materials for the building’s supporting columns.
Specifically, the Tainan District Prosecutors Office found that the now-collapsed Weiguan building was lacking half of the concrete beam stirrups — typically placed at regular intervals along columns to prevent “shear failure” — that were specified in original blueprints, Taiwan News reports.
In the words of Tainan’s prosecutors: “Judging by the blueprints and the wreckage, we believe there are discrepancies in the quantities of steel beam stirrups used in reinforced concrete design.” Ergo, the suspicion of cut corners in the building’s construction look to have been proven right all along. Surprise, surprise.
On top of that, the then project developers Lin Ming-hui, Chang Kui-an, and Cheng Chin-kui were found to have rented their constructor’s license. Detained on Tuesday, the three face charges of causing death by professional negligence. Tainan prosecutors say the investigation is still in progress.
The death toll for the earthquake is currently at 44, though that number could soon climb above 100 with rescuers still searching for survivors buried underneath the Wei Guan building.