Elderly couple has narrow escape from house collapse

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

An elderly couple escaped uninjured from an old Japanese-style house that partially collapsed in Taipei yesterday. The couple said they ran for their lives early in the morning when the second and third floors of their house on Taipei’s Tihua Street caved in. The couple complained that their house would not have collapsed if the city government had provided funding for its renovation. They claimed it had been listed as a “Level Three Historic Structure,” which meant it could not be torn down and rebuilt, but the city had made no efforts restoring it. The city’s cultural officials dismissed their claims, saying the structure was never listed as a protected historic item, and the city government was not responsible for its renovation. Firefighters and city officials said preliminary investigations showed that a big tree at the back of the house was uprooted in Friday’s heavy rains and tilted towards the structure.

The weight of the tree broke the outer wall, which then caused the floors to cave in, they said.

Tihua Street, situated in one of the city’s earliest developed districts, is lined with many old structures. The cultural officials said the old couple’s house was inside a “special cultural zone,” but it was not an historic structure.