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Inspections needed before evacuated residents can return home: Hou

02/28/2024 04:48 PM
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New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (center) speaks to reporters near the apartment building on Wednesday. CNA photo Feb. 28, 2024
New Taipei Mayor Hou Yu-ih (center) speaks to reporters near the apartment building on Wednesday. CNA photo Feb. 28, 2024

Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) Residents in New Taipei's Sanchong District who were evacuated Tuesday after work at a construction site caused a nearby apartment building to tilt will only be allowed to return home following safety evaluations, Mayor Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) said Wednesday.

A total of 83 people were evacuated Tuesday evening from two buildings -- an 11-story building next to the construction site on Fulong Road, and a 5-story building next to it that tilted to one side following underground excavation work at the site.

During a visit to the area Wednesday morning, Hou told reporters that work to stabilize and reinforce the buildings around the site was ongoing.

Residents were to be allowed to enter the two evacuated buildings later Wednesday to pack some of their belongings and check for any damage, but will only be allowed to move back in following house-by-house safety evaluations, Hou said.

During an earlier visit Tuesday night, Hou said the city would demand that the construction company pay compensation for the damage, and he vowed to conduct inspections at its other building sites in New Taipei.

The damage is believed to have occurred when construction workers digging a basement drilled through a diaphragm wall, causing groundwater from under an adjacent building to rush in, Lai Chien-hung (賴建宏), head of the New Taipei City Professional Civil Engineers Association, said Tuesday.

The sudden loss of groundwater under the neighboring building is likely what caused it to tilt, Lai said, adding that water was being pumped back under the structure in order to temporarily stabilize it.

A resident of the 11-story building, surnamed Kuo (郭), told CNA she went to throw out the garbage at around 4 p.m. Tuesday and noticed pieces of broken tile on the ground in front of the building next door.

After going back home and starting dinner, she received a notification from the fire department around 6 p.m. that they would have to evacuate, she said.

(By Wang Kuo-hung, Yang Kan-ju, Kao Chien-hua and Matthew Mazzetta)

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