Rapid screening of buildings' earthquake resistance ordered

2018/02/12 22:24:38 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Rapid screening of buildings' earthquake resistance ordered

Taipei, Feb. 12 (CNA) Taiwan's authorities have decided to launch a rapid screening of the earthquake resistance of high-rise buildings built in 1999 or before after a deadly earthquake on Feb. 6 renewed concern about the safety of the country's structures.

Vice Interior Minister Hua Ching-chun (花敬群) announced the initiative at a briefing on the approaches his ministry will take to push for the reconstruction of old or hazardous buildings around the country.

"Only with a rapid screening check can one know which building is hazardous," Hua said.

There are roughly 7,850 12-story or higher buildings, or 12,656 nine-story or higher structures that were built before a destructive earthquake in central Taiwan on Sept. 21, 1999, which led to tougher building standards, Hua said,

"Those are the targets of the rapid screening program," he said, specifying that the buildings screened will be those privately owned whose ownership is controlled by many people rather than a single individual.

The Ministry of the Interior already requires solely owned private buildings used for public purposes, such as hotels, hospitals and department stores, with a total floor area of least 1,000 square meters and whose construction permit was issued before Dec. 31, 1999, to undergo seismic hazard assessments.

The ministry will now expand the regulations to all high-rise buildings constructed before the 1999 earthquake, Hua said.

More than 27,000 government buildings and schools around Taiwan have already been assessed as part of the government's efforts to strengthen national building safety, according to Wang Jung-ching (王榮進), acting director-general of the Construction and Planning Agency.

Explaining the planned rapid screening check, Wang said local governments will be required to carry it out by retrieving the structural plans of a targeted building and reviewing them.

If any building is found to be a potential seismic hazard, its owners will be notified to have the building undergo a seismic hazard assessment.

Those failing to do so will be faced with a fine ranging from NT$60,000 (US$2,043) to NT$300,000 under the Building Act, Wang said.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)

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