Two questioned over deadly Taiwan blaze which killed 46 people

16-Oct-2021 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Prosecutors are questioning a woman and her boyfriend over the cause of a fire that killed 46 people in southern Taiwan.

The couple did not answer questions from the press on Friday morning when they were brought to the prosecutor’s office in Kaohsiung city on suspicion of endangering the public and negligence resulting in death.

The deadly blaze broke out in the early hours of Thursday, destroying several floors of the dilapidated 40-year-old Cheng Chung Cheng building that housed some of the more underprivileged residents of Kaohsiung. The fire also injured 41 people.

The former department store fell into disuse after an economic downturn in the area and had been poorly maintained for years.

The prosecutors said on Thursday that two people suspected of causing the fire were being questioned by police, as well as four eyewitnesses.

Local television station TVBS reported that the police investigation found the man had brought his girlfriend to the building on a motorcycle late on Wednesday night, about three hours before the blaze. He then left the building alone after they had an argument, it said.

Police initially brought the woman in for questioning as an eyewitness, but found inconsistencies in her statements, TVBS reported.

Another Taiwanese broadcaster Eastern Television said the woman had told police she had burned some sandalwood powder in her residential unit, behind an antiques shop on the ground floor of the building, but denied committing arson, while the man said he knew nothing about the fire.

Footage from nearby closed-circuit television and evidence collected at the site indicated “some suspicion” over how the fire began, according to Kaohsiung police chief Huang Ming-chao. He was speaking at a funeral home, where relatives of the deceased were identifying their loved ones.

“Relevant evidence was found at the scene. Indian sandalwood powder was burnt at the site to repel insects, which could cause smouldering and eventually fire to break out,” Huang said, but he emphasized the investigation was still in its preliminary stage.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that one of the residents who died in the fire was originally from mainland China and had gone to Taiwan to marry.


Category: Taiwan

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