US News Taiwan: anguish and anger after the death of 46 people in a fire building
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Flames left room for The anger and anguish Friday in Taiwan, in the aftermath of the death of 46 people in the fire of a dilapidated building from the south of the island, one of the most murderers in a residential building in 20 years in the world.
The fire was at dawn on Thursday morning in a 13-storey building for the city of Kaohsiung, ravaging several floors before firefighters reach to master him, four hours later.
According to the authorities, 41 people were hospitalized.
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The residential building was in poor condition and most victims were low-income seniors, some of whom were disabled or with dementia.
- "working class" -
Lee Mao-Shen, who has lived for 40 years in the building opposite, looks at the pigeons to land on the balustrades of what remains of the apartment where his friend is dead the night before.
His neighbor Cheng Yong-Kang, who is part of those who have never come out of the building, raised pigeons from his seventh floor balcony, tells the sexagenarian.
"We met every day to discuss, we discussed the evening of his death," he said to AFP.
The sexagenarian describes its neighborhood as "mainly composed of people of the working class and the elderly".
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The complex today that his friend is dead was once a dynamic place, but, like the rest of the neighborhood, he had difficult times.
"There was a shopping center and a cinema inside," he remembers. But the commercial floors were empty and abandoned for several years.
Firefighters explain in particular the violence of the fire by the fact that the five lower commercial floors were filled with debris and abandoned objects that generated the enormous amounts of smoke which then engulfed the residential apartments located above.
- Exposed wiring -
Lin Chieh-Ying, retired ballet teacher who also lives opposite, said the Building was dilapidated since a previous fire twenty years ago, in one of the department stores today closed.
The fire had made no victim, but much of the building fell into ruin.
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"Now there are always people who drink at night and make the fuss," she says. "They should have demolished this building 20 years ago."
Residents reported having heard several strong detonations at the moment when the fire expanded, around 3 o'clock in the morning on Thursday, on the ground floor.
The local media has published recent images from the interior of the building, where you can see exposed wiring, rusty water ducts and stairwells obstructed by detritus.
cited in Taipei Times, Kaohsiung Su Chih-Hsun Public Works Office General said that multiple fire safety issues had been identified at inspections in 2019, 2020 and earlier this year. But efforts to solve these problems have been hampered by a dysfunctional buildings management committee.
frequently struck by earthquakes and typhoons, the island of Taiwan has rules Strict construction, but safety standards are not often well applied, especially in old buildings.
The Mayor of Kaohsiung said a working group would be put in place to study the management by the city of this building and other aging structures.
Taiwan is one of the "Asian tigers" whose economy has jumped forward in the last century thanks to rapid industrialization. But inequalities are well anchored and many seniors, in particular, have been left behind.
SC-JTA / MLB / ROC
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