Disaster Zone

Taiwan Death Toll Rises to Nine

An Asian perspective on the earthquake disaster.

by Eric Holdeman / February 8, 2018

Taiwan has had other earthquakes, some of them have proven deadly. I recall some after-action reports on previous earthquakes. Taiwan has very good seismic building codes. What they have not had in the past was a good building inspection program. Contractors used shoddy materials and took shortcuts that caused buildings to collapse.

The most recent earthquake has the one "poster child" photo of a high-rise building leaning way over to one side. See this Asia-based news item on the event, Taiwan earthquake death toll rises to nine, as bodies of three more mainland Chinese recovered.

For the one building in question, the linked story has one hypothesis for why the building leaned over as dramatically as it did. I'd like to postulate another potential cause — liquefaction. I recall seeing pictures of Japanese apartment buildings also leaning at extreme angles and the cause there was identified as liquefaction. Although in this recent disaster, there was some collapse of the lower floors.  

In the end, structural engineers will be the ones to determine the cause. Will the building's architect and builder be anywhere to be found?