Tin cans found ‘reinforcing’ concrete walls of high-rise building which collapsed in Taiwan quake

Rescue personnel work at the site where a 17-storey apartment building collapsed, after an earthquake in Tainan, southern Taiwan February 7, 2016. © Tyrone Siu
The only high-rise building to have collapsed in the Taiwanese city of Tainan following a major earthquake on Saturday seems to have had serious constructions flaws. The collapse has exposed cooking-oil cans embedded inside the building’s concrete walls.

Witnesses at the scene have told Reuters that they saw large rectangular, commercial cans of cooking-oil packed inside the wall cavities of the 17-story Wei Guan Golden Dragon Building, apparently having been used as building material.

A BBC correspondent reported from the scene that the collapse has exposed blue-and-white cooking oil cans that “appear to have been used as filler inside some of the concrete beams.”

The authorities have already employed three teams of civil engineers and started investigation into the collapse of the two decade old building, Tainan Mayor William Lai said.

"When it's completed, we'll punish those who should be held accountable," he said.

Cooking-oil cans inside wall cavities were reportedly one of the reasons behind the collapse of some of the buildings during another Taiwan earthquake in 1999.

READ MORE: Taiwan residential tower toppled by deadly 6.4 quake (AERIAL FOOTAGE)

As of Sunday evening the death toll from the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that hit Taiwan at the beginning of the Lunar New Year holiday stands at 33, with 31 of the dead having been found at the collapsed Wei-guan Golden Dragon Building in Tainan.

Reuters also reported that one Taiwanese bank had a policy of rejecting loans to residents of the Wei-guan building, citing its poor construction.

Rescuers are racing against time to save 119 people who are still believed to be trapped under the rubble. A total of 309 people have been rescued so far, Xinhua news agency reported.