Saturday, February 06, 2016

6.4 Earthquake Rattles Taiwan, Kills Fourteen, Over A Hundred Missing

by JASmius

Magnitude 6.4 on the modern Richter scale would generally qualify as a moderate temblor (the high end of that range, anyway), but if it's epicentered in the right place, it can still do a lot of damage.  This one was epicentered, unfortunately, in the "right' place:

A powerful earthquake struck Taiwan early on Saturday killing at least [fourteen and counting] people, most in a seventeen-story apartment building that collapsed, with at least five people missing in the ruins of the complex as darkness fell, government officials said.

As rescuers searched for survivors, questions were raised about the construction of the Wei-guan Golden Dragon Building in the southern city of Tainan, with its floors that pancaked down on each other when the 6.4 magnitude tremor hit at around 4 a.m. (2000 GMT), at the start of a Lunar New Year holiday.

Nine of the dead, including a ten-day-old girl, were from the apartment building. The baby was found in her dead father's arms, media reported....

The quake was centered forty-three kilometers (twenty-seven miles) southeast of Tainan, at a depth of twenty-three kilometers (fourteen miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Not unreasonable questions to ask, since no other building pancaked or otherwise suffered major damage.  Of which here is the punchline:

Liu Shih-chung, city government deputy secretary-general, said television footage of the ruins of the commercial-residential building suggested the possibility of structural problems related to poor-quality reinforced steel and cement.

The construction and engineering companies that built the complex are no longer operating, records showed. [emphasis added]

Do tell.

Two neighbors said they had felt nervous about the construction when the building was going up in the early 1990s.

"I looked at it and thought, only people from out of town would buy there. We local people would never dare," said one of the neighbors, Yang Shu-mei.

Yeah - foist it on the furiners.  That'll show 'em.

Nothing provides sweet solace like indulging in some comforting xenophobia, right?  And if the "Golden Dragon" had fallen over on their building instead of pancaking?  Just sayin'.

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