Taipei mayor orders suspension of KTV business after deadly fire

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) ordered the suspension of a KTV parlor and instructed utmost efforts to treat the injured after inspecting the scene of a deadly fire Sunday.

There is no need to jump to any conclusions about how the fire started, but it is important to suspend the Cashbox KTV Linsen outlet’s operations in an eight-floor building, in order to preserve the evidence, said Ko, who also visited those injured who were taken to the nearby MacKay Memorial Hospital.

According to the Taipei City Fire Department’s initial investigation, the fire, which has caused five deaths, started on the fifth floor of the building.

As of press time, 50 people were in several hospitals being treated, two of whom were in critical condition.

Wang Cheng-hsiung (王證雄), head of the fire department’s third district headquarters, said most of the people were rescued from the top three floors, as the other floors were closed when the fire broke out.

Around 200 people were evacuated from the building on Linsen North Road, which is wholly owned by Cashbox.

The fire department found that the building’s fire system, including alarms and sprinklers, was shut down and confirmed that renovation work was taking place on the fifth floor.

He also said that most of the casualties were by smoke inhalation and became trapped as a result, even though all emergency doors and exits were found to be usable during the rescue operation.

The business last passed a routine fire safety inspection on March 30, Wang noted.

Meanwhile, Hung Te-hao (洪德豪), a spokesperson of the Taipei City Construction Management Office, told CNA that although the KTV’s renovation plan involving its elevators was approved on Jan. 17, it had not submitted a fire safety plan required for the renovation.

Wang pointed out that the business should not have proceeded with the renovation before the fire safety plan was submitted to the fire department.

Cashbox released a statement through the Market Observation Post System for stock investors, saying that it will suspend the outlet’s business and cooperate with the fire investigation.

In response, the New Taipei city government said it will begin inspecting similar entertainment venues starting that evening, while the Kaohsiung city government also announced a plan to complete safety inspections of all such venues in one month.