A cargo warehouse fire in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District (觀音) left three people dead, while a fourth remained in serious condition yesterday.
An initial investigation showed that the four are Vietnamese workers, Taoyuan officials and police said.
Authorities said they received reports of a fire at a warehouse of Kerry TJ Logistics of Taiwan (嘉里大榮物流) at about 10am on Wednesday.
Taoyuan. Photo: Courtesy of the Taoyuan Fire Department
Firefighters contained the blaze at 8pm that night.
Police said the blaze was likely caused by work being done by a contractor on the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
They questioned the contractor, surnamed Chen (陳), who had hired six Vietnamese workers for the repair and maintenance work on the warehouse’s second floor.
The new warehouse, which opened on Dec. 1 last year, was reportedly built at a cost of NT$1.5 billion (US$48.79 million).
Investigators estimated that the fire had caused about NT$10 million in damage.
Officials at the scene first found two of the contractor’s crew — one man and one woman — outside the warehouse.
The duo said they had run outside when they saw the smoke and reported that their four fellow Vietnamese workers were missing.
Firefighters pulled two men from the warehouse at about noon on Wednesday.
Both had suffered burns and smoke inhalation: One of the men, surnamed Nguyen, 30, died in hospital, while the other, surnamed Tang (曾), 34, remained in serious condition.
Chen told police that he only knew one of the workers, who helped him recruit the other five.
“We had this repair and maintenance contract work during the Lunar New Year holiday period,” Chen said. “I have no idea how the fire started. When I went inside, it was already gushing with smoke... The workers were instructed to carry the pipes, equipment and other materials to the work site, where I had to supervise all the pipe fitting, welding and electrical work.”
Firefighters recovered two bodies on the second floor of the warehouse yesterday, which were believed to be the two other missing Vietnamese workers.
Following an initial assessment, Taoyuan Chief Prosecutor Chiang Yu-cheng (江祐丞) said that documents found on the bodies confirmed that the three dead people were Vietnamese nationals, but DNA testing would be carried out to verify their identities.
Taoyuan prosecutors said they would continue to investigate the cause of the fire and determine if the contractor had recruited the workers legally.
Taoyuan Department of Labor records show that the six Vietnamese workers had come to Taiwan through proper channels and with legal documentation.
However, the contractor could be in breach of the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) if the workers were found to have left their original contracts to take jobs elsewhere without the consent of their original employer.
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