Taiwan sentences three to five years in jail for fatal earthquake collapse

14 people died in one building in Hualien after the Feb. 6, 2018 quake

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The Yun Men Tsui Ti building in Hualien shortly after the February 2018 earthquake.

The Yun Men Tsui Ti building in Hualien shortly after the February 2018 earthquake. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The developer, the architect and a civil engineer were sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday (October 8) for the collapse of the Yun Men Tsui Ti Building (雲門翠堤) in Hualien which killed 14 people during an earthquake in February last year.

Appeals were still possible against the Hualien District Court verdict, the Central News Agency reported.

The magnitude-6.0 quake struck at 11:50 p.m. on February 6, 2018, and registered a maximum intensity of 7 in the east coast city. The 12-story Yun Men Tsui Ti, which also housed a hotel, partly collapsed within eight seconds of the quake.

While the total death toll reached 17, 14 of those died in the building, raising questions about its construction process.

The investigation found that developer Liu Ying-lin (劉英麟) did not possess the necessary licenses to work on construction projects. He asked architect Yu Te-jung (游德榮) to design the building and engineering expert Chen Chen-hsiang (陳禎祥) to sign off on the project, prosecutors said.

The three were indicted for negligent homicide in June last year and found guilty Tuesday, with the court accusing them of showing no remorse and of trying to pass responsibility off on others. The trio also failed to offer any compensation to the relatives of the victims, CNA reported.

The court said the five-year jail terms might seem too light, but they were the maximum under existing laws.