Some disturbing allegations have surfaced following a 6.4 earthquake in Taiwan on February 6th. One 16-story apartment complex, the Weiguan Jinlong, toppled over with more than 300 people inside, killing at least 24 people. This makes up the majority of total earthquake deaths in the city of Tainan, currently numbering around 40. Now, reports are surfacing that the high-rise we literally constructed out of “tin cans.”
While emergency workers worked to free residents trapped in the rubble, they spotted old cooking oil cans literally built into the walls of the structure. It appears that they had been used as construction filler in the beams, prompting an investigation by the authorities. Due to the island’s frequent tectonic activity, Taiwan has extremely strict building codes, which survivors allege were violated during the construction of the complex.
However, one structural engineer, Tai Yun-fa, claims that the cans were not the cause of the collapse. Tai told reporters that the cans may have been installed in order to make the pillars look larger without increasing their weight, but that they wouldn’t have had any effect on the stability of the building. Instead, he blamed unrelated structural design problems and general poor construction quality for the collapse.
Unfortunately, the construction companies and contractors who worked on the Weiguan Jinlong building have long since gone out of business, so figuring out who’s responsible and holding them accountable may be a difficult task for the government. Officials say 121 people are still unaccounted for and may be buried in the rubble.