Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) paid a visit to the family of Fu Chia-sen (傅家森), a volunteer firefighter who was killed during a search and rescue mission at a landfill construction site in Taichung City early on Sunday, to express his condolences.
Fu was pronounced dead after he was pulled out of the dirt at the site, city officials said.
Taichung Deputy Mayor Hsiao Jia-chi (蕭家旗), who accompanied Liao on the visit to Fu’s home, said that although Fu was a volunteer, the city government would offer compensation available to the families of full-time firefighters because he sacrificed his life in an effort to rescue others.
Fu joined the volunteer firefighting service more than 10 years ago and was cited last year as a role model.
Liao and Hsiao also visited Taichung Veterans General Hospital to extend their regards to two fire department staff members who were injured in the landslides at the construction site.
The landslides left one dead, one missing and two firefighters injured, city officials said.
The first landslide occurred at around 9am, burying a construction worker identified as Wu Cheng-wei (吳正維). The search for Wu was still under way at press time.
The Taichung City Government Fire Department dispatched a rescue team immediately after it received a distress call.
While fire department staff and volunteers were busy searching for the buried worker, there was a second landslide that buried Fu.
Fu’s colleagues then rushed to mount a new search mission. At around 1pm, they spotted part of Fu’s clothing and tried to pull him out.
However, another landslide hit, causing two others to sink into the soft dirt.
They were eventually pulled out and sent to a hospital for treatment.
The contractor on the retaining wall reinforcement project said the landslides were probably caused by water seeping from ready-mixed concrete used in the construction of the wall.
The project involves 19 10m-high culverts built beneath the landfill. Because of the soft soil in the region, land excavation was being done manually rather than by machines.
City government officials said they would conduct a thorough investigation to determine who was accountable for the tragic accident.