Sat, Aug 18, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Lincoln collapse haunts Sijhih

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Victims of the 1997 Lincoln Mansion disaster display pictures of their ruined homes at an event yesterday marking the 10th anniversary of the landslide. They called on the government to pay more attention to the case.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Exactly 10 years after part of the Lincoln Mansions (林肯大郡) complex was destroyed during a typhoon, the community still sits in ruins with promises of help remaining unfulfilled.

It was 10 years ago today that heavy rain brought by Typhoon Winnie caused the retaining wall of the Lincoln Mansions complex in Sijhih (汐止), Taipei County, to collapse.

Twenty-eight residents were killed in the incident, as the collapsed wall released a torrent of mud and rocks that flattened their apartments and forced another 500 families to abandon their destroyed homes.

The survivors were just too scared to live in the complex after learning that it had been built on land at risk of subsidence.

"Time stopped at the moment of the tragedy 10 years ago at Lincoln Mansions," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) told a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

A black-and-white picture taken last month by former resident Chou Chi-chuan (周志全) shows a giant piece of rock filling the window of an apartment, with mud spread all over the floor.

In another picture, an inclined building stands on ground that has cracked open.

"These pictures were taken last month, not 10 years ago, but there's not much change," Chou said.

"The people who should have been held responsible for the tragedy are still free as birds, and the promises of help were never fulfilled," Chou said.

"The owner of the construction company, Li Chung-hsien (李宗賢), has yet to be sanctioned," said a former resident surnamed Lai who lost his wife in the accident.

Li, who obtained the construction permit illegally, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the first round of the case, Lai said.

However, the sentence was later changed to four years and "the case is still in appeal today," Lai said.

Li also reached a separate settlement out of court with residents in which he promised to "take care of mortgage issues for us, but never did," Lai said.

In addition, promises made by Democratic Progressive Party vice-presidential candidate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) when he was Taipei County commissioner and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) when he was running for the presidency in 1999 to "handle the issue as a special case" were never fulfilled, Chou said.

In the news conference, former residents asked the government to preserve the ruins of the community as an example of inappropriate development.

In addition, they also demanded that the government release a piece of land for them to reconstruct their community, and that the government set up standard operating procedures for similar disasters in the future.

Teng Min-chi (鄧民治), executive secretary of the county administration said the county would help the residents but did not offer any concrete promises.

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