Cashbox KTV to pay each fire victim NT$1 million in compensation

TAIPEI (CNA) — Cashbox Partyworld KTV, one of Taiwan’s largest karaoke chains, has halted operations of all its 17 branches around the nation for one week after a fire killed five people at its Linsen Road outlet in Taipei Sunday, and will pay the families of each victim NT$1 million (US$33,359) in compensation.

Cashbox board member Yen Chih-ching (嚴智徑) announced the measures at a press event Tuesday, during which he, along with other key company members, bowed to the public to express their deep regret and observed a moment of silence to express mourning for the dead.

Yen attended the press conference on behalf of Cashbox Chairman Lien Tai-sheng (練台生), who he said was unable to be there due to his “deep sorrow” but extended his “deepest and highest apology” for those who died or were injured in the fire.

Cashbox board member Yen Chih-ching (center) and other key company members bow to the public to express their deep regret.

Apart from the NT$1 million, the company will also pay the families of the dead additional compensation and cover all the medical bills for those who were injured in the fire, Cashbox spokesperson Kao Hsin-hua (高心華) said at the press event.

Cashbox has already suspended operations at six of its outlets that failed safety inspections one day after the deadly fire. It further announced that it was closing the rest of its outlets for one week for comprehensive safety checks and a full management review.

The fire broke out at the Cashbox Partyworld KTV branch on Linsen North Road on Sunday morning, when all five major safety facilities — an indoor fire hydrant, automatic sprinkler system, automatic fire alarm, emergency broadcasting system, and smoke extraction equipment — were out of action, investigating police and prosecutors said Tuesday.

At least five people, all clients of the karaoke parlor, were killed during the blaze, with one more in critical condition.

On Tuesday, police took the Weng (翁)-surnamed manager of the Linsen outlet to the Taipei District Prosecutors Office to be charged with negligent homicide, offense against public safety and violations of the Fire Services Act.

After questioning, the district prosecutors office allowed Weng to be released on bail of NT$300,000 (US$10,000) and banned her from leaving the country.

One day earlier, the prosecutors had a foreman, surnamed Wang (王), who was contracted to carry out repairs at the KTV parlor, released on NT$100,000 bail after suspecting him of triggering the fire in a storage room on the fifth floor of the building that accommodated the karaoke business.

The karaoke business occupies the entire eight-floor building.

According to an initial investigation by police and prosecutors, Wang was found to have put a laser rangefinder on charge in the storage room and left after some 10 seconds. The fire broke out nearly two hours later, police said, citing cctv camera footage.