Taiwan commemorates 117 victims of earthquake

Taiwan holds memorial service for 117 victims of devastating earthquake that struck heavily populated south

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Relatives, religious leaders and government officials attend a memorial for the victims of the collapsed building complex caused by an earthquake in Tainan, Taiwan, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. The 16-story Weiguan Golden Dragon complex was the only building to

Taiwan on Saturday held a memorial service for the 117 victims of this month's devastating earthquake that struck the island's heavily populated south.

President Ma Ying-jeoy, President-elect Tsai Ing-wen and other officials joined about 4,000 attendees at the outdoor service at a stadium in the city of Tainan, where all of the casualties from the Feb. 6 quake were recorded.

Of the victims, 115 died in a single 17-story apartment building that toppled over shortly after the early morning magnitude-6.4 quake, trapping residents under tons of concrete and steel. More than 550 people were injured in the disaster.

Following a minute of silence, participants placed lilies on a bier at the rear of the stage, where the victims' photographs were displayed.

In remarks to the assembly, Ma said the government was stepping up work to reinforce buildings considered vulnerable to earthquakes and pushing for strengthened laws on disaster prevention and relief.

The building's developer, Lin Ming-hui, and two architects have been detained on suspicion of negligent homicide following accusations that Lin's company cut corners in the construction.

Thanks in part to a speedy response, 270 people were rescued from the collapsed building, including 42-year-old Lee Tsung-tien, who lost seven members of his family and had a leg amputated.

Taiwan lies on an active fault line known as the Pacific Ring of Fire and is regularly struck by quakes. Most cause little or no damage, particularly since more stringent building regulations were introduced following a magnitude-7.6 quake in 1999 that killed more than 2,300 people.

TRTWorld, AP