Date: July 21, 2015
Taiwan has seen a string of disasters this year. But these are not simply accidents. Behind
each case, investigators found that either negligence, an error in judgment or legal violations were at least partly to blame. The BBC’s Cindy Sui in Taipei asks whether Taiwan’s reputation for safety is deserving.
Taiwan is considered one of the safest places in the world because of its low crime rate. But crime-rate aside, it may not be as safe as it likes to think it is.
The past year of disasters is a stark reminder:
- In the past year, two planes from local carrier TransAsia crashed, killing more than 80 people. In one case, the pilot may have misjudged whether it was safe to land after a typhoon. In the other, a pilot is thought to have mistakenly shut down the only working engine on the aircraft.
- Underground petrochemical pipelines exploded in Kaohsiung city killing 32 people. Investigators found local and central governments had known about the pipelines, but neglected to inspect them, and neither did the companies that owned or rented them. The local public works department violated regulations in its construction of a draining ditch which contributed to the rupture.
- Several fires occurred in structures that were allowed to exist even though they violated building codes. A fire at a bowling alley illegally built with metal sheeting killed six firefighters when the roof collapsed on them.
- A fire at a water park concert in June, that began after coloured powder sprayed on spectators ignited, burned nearly 500 mostly young people and killed several. Organisers and park managers had failed to take safety precautions and government agencies had not restricted the use of the flammable material, investigators found.
The incidents point to underlying problems in how Taiwan views public safety. Employees are not adequately trained on safety, and standard operating procedures are lacking. [FULL STORY]