Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Saturday, October 9, 1999 Published at 23:00 GMT 00:00 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Shoddy builders face Taiwan crackdown

Demonstrators planned to camp outside the president's office

Earthquake victims rallying outside the president's office in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, have been assured that no efforts will be spared to prosecute contractors responsible for building collapses.

Quake in Taiwan
A peaceful protest dispersed late on Saturday after police stopped about 300 demonstrators from camping outside President Lee Teng-hui's office.

He promised them that he would keep up the investigation of shoddy construction.

So far, President Lee said, nearly 150 contractors and architects had been detained and their passports confiscated or their assets frozen after the devastating earthquake on 21 September.

They are facing an assortment of charges, including involuntary homicide and endangering public security.

[ image: Unhappy with the government's response]
Unhappy with the government's response
The demonstrators were demanding government compensation for their losses.

The government has refused to take over an estimated $310 in mortgages.

Many people told Mr Lee that while their homes appeared only slightly damaged, they are living in tents because they fear another aftershock.

Unfurling banners emblazoned with the words "Killer Contractors" and "Rebuild our Homes," they complained that the government's proposals are not specific enough.

Death toll rises

Shoddy construction during Taiwan's building boom is thought to have contributed to the death toll, which the government updated on Saturday to 2,295.

Many of the victims died under the rubble of collapsed buildings. About 38,000 homes collapsed or were severely damaged.

Taiwan's parliament has passed an emergency decree allowing the government to force evacuations, appropriate private buildings and disregard all planning laws during reconstruction.

Officials are expecting troops to have repaired all damaged roads, demolished dangerous buildings and cleared debris by the end of this month.

They aim to finish constructing temporary accommodation for the thousands left homeless by next February, before winter sets in and conditions deteriorate.

Sombre National Day

The victims of the earthquake will be remembered on a rather subdued National Day on Sunday.

All the usual parades and displays have been cancelled.

President Lee will attend a private ceremony with senior government officials and on Monday a memorial service for the victims will be held at a stadium in the capital, Taipei.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

29 Sep 99 | The Economy
Taiwan counts quake losses

28 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan quake rescue criticised

27 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese threaten Taiwan

27 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Taiwan mourns for 2,000 dead

21 Sep 99 | Asia-Pacific
Building codes spare Taiwan

Internet Links

Taiwan Government Information Office

Disaster Message Service - Taiwan Earthquake

Worldwide Earthquake locator

US Geological Survey

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Indonesia rules out Aceh independence

DiCaprio film trial begins

Millennium sect heads for the hills

Uzbekistan voices security concerns

From Business
Chinese imports boost US trade gap

ICRC visits twelve Burmese jails

Falintil guerillas challenge East Timor peackeepers

Malaysian candidates named

North Korea expels US 'spy'

Holbrooke to arrive in Indonesia

China warns US over Falun Gong

Thais hand back Cambodian antiques