3 killed as scaffolding collapses in Kaohsiung City

Three people have died after being hit by falling scaffolding from a 20-story-tall building under construction in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Kaohsiung, Aug. 23 (CNA)-Three passersby were killed Thursday when a large piece of scaffolding fell from a high rise construction site in Kaohsiung City and crashed down on the three motorists, apparently due to strong winds brought by a tropical depression.

The scaffolding crushed the three people who were on two scooters passing by on the street, trapping them under a pile of the scaffolding just in front of the construction site in downtown Kaohsiung around 3 p.m.

The accident appeared to have been caused by strong wind gusts and heavy downpours from a tropical depression, according to the city’s fire department.

The three victims were a 34-year-old man who was riding a scooter with his mother, 59, on the back seat, and a 45-year-old woman who was also riding a scooter when strong winds took down the scaffold.

After being rescued and taken to a hospital, the man and his mother were declared dead on arrival, and the other woman was listed in a serious condition, according to the department.

The Kaohsiung City Government has ordered the construction company to suspend work at the site. The company could face a fine of up to NT$300,000 (US$9,734) if it is found the scaffolding collapse was related to a violation of construction safety regulations or failure to meet construction standards, according to Chiang Chun-chang, the head of the Building Affairs Department under the city’s Public Works Bureau.

The local government has directed the construction company to take responsibility for the accident, including giving compensation to the victims or their families.

It has also asked the Kaohsiung Professional Civil Engineers Association to visit the site and help investigate the cause of the accident.

According to the construction permit, the building is a 20-story structure, consisting of 15 levels above ground and four stories underground. Fourteen stories of the building have passed construction inspections.