Taipei woman killed by building debris

Taipei woman killed by building debris

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- One woman was killed and another injured when a large granite wall slab fell on them from an office building in downtown Taipei, yesterday.

The 40-kilogram slab fell from the fifth floor of the office building on Zhongxiao West Road Section 4. The building is owned by the United Daily News Group.

The police are investigating the cause of the tile's detachment from the building.

The slab was located near an air-conditioning unit that may have been in operation due to the higher temperatures yesterday.

The victim was identified as a 40-year-old English instructor surnamed Wang who taught at a cram school located in the same building.

She showed no life signs after being taken to the hospital.

The injured victim (surnamed Huang, 42 years old), who was picking up her child from the cram school after office hours, was taken to Taipei Medical University Hospital for treatment.

According to an official of the Taipei City Construction Management Office, construction code violations that result in accidental death will result in a NT$300,000 (S$13,000) fine as stipulated in Paragraph 77 of the Building Act.

Improvements to the building facade to meet safety requirements must also be completed within 15 days.

In a statement made by United Daily News Group, the company expressed regret for the incident and promised support for the victims' families.

It also indicated that it was continuing to investigate the cause of the accident, adding that repairs on the office walls are conducted annually.

Falling Debris Is Ticking Time Bomb

Area residents, including the borough chief, indicated that many buildings within the area are over 30 years old, adding that falling debris that damage parked cars are a common occurrence.

Another incident of falling building debris was also reported in Keelung yesterday, with no reported injuries.

Strong winds in January caused multiple large tiles to fall in Kaohsiung, injuring several pedestrians.

According to estimates, approximately 20 per cent of Kaohsiung's 7,000 apartment complexes are reported to have issues with falling debris.

According to statistics provided by the Taipei City Public Works Department, buildings over 30 years old make up 78.8 per cent of the city's 88,000 household dwellings.

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