Four people are reported dead and four injured after a section of elevated railway under construction in Taiwan collapsed onto a busy road.
One of the dead was a woman whose car was crushed by the 209-ton, 43-m-long section of railway that fell from a height of around four storeys onto a main intersection in the city of Taichung on Friday afternoon (10 April).
All the other victims were construction workers, Taiwanese newspaper The China Post reported.
The elevated section had been scheduled for completion in 2020, but Mayor Lin demanded in January this year that construction be done by 2018.–
The cause of the incident is under investigation but it appears that a heavy steel girder fell as it was being lifted into place by the firm building the city’s first mass rapid transit (MRT) system, Far Eastern General Contractor (FEGC).
The accident caused Taichung’s mayor, Lin Chia-Lung, to cut short a visit to South Korea and return to the city. On Sunday he dismissed claims that the accident had resulted from government pressure to speed up the project.
Workers from the construction company had earlier told reporters that work on raising the steel section had sped up to meet a 4am Saturday deadline from the municipal government. They said the company would be fined if the deadline was missed.
But Mayor Lin said his government had only demanded that the administrative process of the project, such as the acquisition of land, be accelerated, and blamed human error.
The elevated section of the MRT had been scheduled for completion in 2020, but Mayor Lin demanded in January this year that construction be done by 2018.
According to the newspaper Lin said he wants an explanation as to why the work was being done during the day, and not at night, and why no traffic controls had been imposed.
Eight people, including engineers and site managers from FEGC and the steelwork sub-contractor, were questioned by prosecutors and later released after posting bonds.
Photograph: The MRT under construction in Taichung, Taiwan, in February 2015 (Fcuk1203/Wikimedia Commons)