Severe Earthquake Rocks Tainan Area
The southern city of Tainan was hit by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake at 3:57 a.m on February 6, causing a number of buildings to collapse. One was the 17-story Weiguang Jinlong apartment house, which alone accounted for 114 of the total 116 deaths. Military and civilian rescue personnel were mobilized to join the search and rescue efforts, which officially ended on February 14 with all but one of the missing persons accounted for. Another 560 victims were hospitalized. The earthquake could be felt the length of Taiwan’s west coast and left 400,000 households without water and 120,000 without power.
The complete destruction of the Weiguang Jinlong tower has led prosecutors to target former officers and shareholders at the defunct Weiguang construction company for shoddy construction work and the use of subpar materials, along with real estate executives suspected of tampering with support structures. The current owners of a ground floor apartment, however, were cleared of any wrongdoing after allegations that they had removed support beams and columns. The Tainan government is now in the midst of costly reconstruction efforts.
Chans, Venus Williams Win First Taiwan Open
The inaugural Taiwan Open tennis tournament saw American superstar Venus Williams take top prize in the singles, while local favorites the Chan sisters won the doubles in the event held at the Yang Ming Tennis Center in Kaohsiung February 6-14. The tournament, organized by IS Media, PCG Bros Sports Management, and the International Sports Development Association of Kaohsiung City in conjunction with the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), was the first major tennis event held in Taiwan. It saw women competitors from Taiwan and around the world compete for a purse totaling US$500,000. Top seed Williams, ranked No. 12 in the world, defeated her Japanese opponent, second seed Misaki Doi, 6-4, 6-2, over one hour, 26 minutes. Taiwanese top seeds Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan, the world’s Nos. 11 and 12 in doubles, took 76 minutes to defeat their Japanese opponents Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato 6-4, 6-3.