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Owners pledge to rebuild 40-year-old hotel following Hualien quake

2018/02/09 19:05:07

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) The Marshal Hotel (統帥飯店) was a landmark of Hualien City for more than 40 years since its inauguration in 1977.

Only 10 minutes by car to the train station and 15 minutes by car to Hualien airport, the 11-story, 270-room hotel has been a first choice for visitors to the eastern city, both locally and internationally.

"Seeing the top of the hotel building from afar means we are close to home," a native Hualien citizen told local media.

But that all changed after a 6.0-magnitude quake hit the city late Feb. 6, leading to the historic building's partial collapse.

A total of 116 people were later evacuated from the hotel. A 37-year-old hotel worker Chou Chih-hsuan (周志軒) was killed in the quake, while two others suffered minor injuries.

Early Friday, heavy machinery and equipment was deployed in front of the building to clear rubble and dismantle the hotel.

One employee at the hotel who has worked there for 18 years told local media that she was heartbroken to see the building's demolition, which is expected to take a week.

The owners of the hotel have pledged that they will find a way to rebuild it.

"It may take some time, but we will stand up again," said Chou Jui-shang (周瑞祥), vice president of the hotel's management department.

Chou also disclosed that the company will continue to pay the salaries of its 84 staff. The company has also reached settlements with the workers who were injured in the accident, and the family of those who were killed, he noted.

Chou also stressed that the hotel had regularly passed required safety checks, dismissing speculation that the partial collapse of the hotel was due to poor building material.

The hotel had also undergone reconstruction 17 years ago to retrofit anti-quake structures, he said.

(By Joseph Yeh)