Tue, Mar 03, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Early morning blaze kills seven at Taipei City hotel

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH DPA

An early morning fire engulfed the 36-year-old Paihsueh Hotel (白雪大旅社) in Taipei City’s Datong District (大同) yesterday, killing seven people and injuring one. It was the city’s deadliest fire in 15 years.

Police said they found a flammable container at the scene but were still investigating the cause.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) ordered a fire and police department task force to investigate the blaze and warned that if arson was found to be the cause, the perpetrators would be severely punished.

He also asked the Fire Department and Urban Planning Commission to establish a task force to examine the fire escape equipment at all old hotels.

Fire Department Commissioner Hsiung Kuang-hua (熊光華) said the fire was reported at 2:42am. Twenty-fire trucks, 103 firefighters and 13 ambulances were dispatched to the scene and the fire was brought under control at 3:11am.

Firefighters rescued three people from the four-story building. Two were later pronounced dead at a local hospital. One man broke both his legs jumping from the second floor and was hospitalized.

Five bodies were later found during a search of the burned-out building, two in the stairwell between the second and third story and three women in a bathroom.

A police officer said the trio in a bathroom were Malaysians who had arrived in Taiwan last Monday and were due to return home on Thursday. They were identified as Chin Seok Liang, 26, Lee Loo Yee, 37 and Low Mee Sim, age unknown.

The other four fatalities, all men, were identified as Chen Hsi-huang (陳錫煌), Lin Chih-chung (林治中), Fang I-wei (方藝偉) and Ting Wen-yung (丁文湧). Ting, 82, was a visually impaired retired soldier living at the hotel.

Hau said the city would pay a NT$200,000 grief subsidy for victims who were Taipei residents, and NT$20,000 for non-residents.

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