Taiwan Officials Detains Building Developer Where Quake Killed 14

Prosecutors in eastern Taiwan say a building complex that collapsed in an earthquake earlier this month, killing 14 people, was structurally unsound and have detained the developer.

The office of the Hualien district prosecutor said Tuesday that Liu Ying-lin was ordered held over concerns that he was seeking to duck responsibility and could collude with others or tamper with evidence and witnesses.

It said in a statement that Liu lacked professional qualifications to undertake such a project and that the 12-story Yun Men Tsui Ti commercial-residential complex was built far below basic standards for withstanding an earthquake.

The building’s architect and the operators of a hotel and hot pot restaurant in the building were released on bail. The two businesses located on the building’s lower floors were believed to have carried out considerable renovations, undermining its structural integrity.

A total of 17 people were killed in four buildings that partially collapsed in the Feb. 6 magnitude 6.4 earthquake.

The quake hit two years to the day after an apartment building in the southwestern city of Tainan collapsed in an earthquake, killing 115 people.

That building was found to have been shoddily constructed with only about half the load-bearing capacity required. Its developer, three employees of his construction company and one outside consultant were charged with professional negligence resulting in death, injury and serious injury.