The public prosecutor’s office in Hualien, Taiwan, is conducting a probe into possible human errors in design, construction, or modification of four of the worst-hit buildings after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook the east-coast city on February 6. The quake killed 12 people and injured 275. Some of the buildings were left leaning at more than 40 degrees. Prosecutors are looking for possible negligence or infractions such as shortcuts during construction, use of inferior building materials, or failure to comply with construction regulations.
Tai Yun-fa, the head of a construction safety association, is reported to have said the Yu Men Tsui Ti building and the Marshal Hotel did not have enough reinforced pillars at their lower levels. The buildings were both constructed before 1999, when a stricter building code came into effect. A 7.6-magnitude earthquake that year killed at least 2,415 people in Taiwan.